7.30.2012

Honey Caramelized Baby Carrots - Recipe

These are real deal baby carrots.  

I thinned carrots today at  Hawkin's Farm. Thinning is pulling out extra plants making room for the rest to grow. I find thinning counter intuitive. The carrots worked hard to grow and here I am yanking them out, but it is for their own good!  The remainder will grow big and long and straight. 

Sowing seeds perfectly one inch apart by hand is hard.  Those seeds are tiny!  But it is better to have too many than too few. After thinning the carrots I should be able to put a quarter between each plant. In a couple more weeks we'll harvest full adult carrots to put in the shares. In the mean time, I won't waste these little babies.

Siamese twin carrots!  Fascinating.  Did you see my Facebook share of the article where the woman found her wedding ring on a carrot?  You should like my Facebook Fan Page for Foy Update so you can learn fun things like that!  ( <---Shameless self promotion)

My only beef with real deal baby carrots is they are a pain to clean.  I used the scrubby part of a sponge to remove dirt.  There isn't enough of them to peel.  

I had just enough carrots to make two servings of something to go with our dinner of potatoes and salmon.  I went to my trusty food inspirations sites: Food Gawker and Taste Spotting.  

Bless Her Heart's Sauteed Baby Parsnips and Carrots were just what I wanted.  I already had honey and rosemary on hand.   The jest of the recipe is saute the carrots in butter with the rosemary over high heat until they are just starting to soften.  Then add a tablespoon of honey, salt and pepper to taste and keep cooking until the honey bubbles and caramelizes and the carrots are al dente.  A fork should be able to pierce without breaking.

Use whatever carrots you like for this recipe, you don't have to have baby carrots.  If you use all grown up carrots, cut them into carrot sticks so they will cook evenly.  Otherwise you might have crunchy centers.  I suggest leaving a little of the green tops if you have the option because their bitterness adds a nice contrast to the sweet honey.


I served the caramelized baby carrots up with herb butter potatoes and grilled salmon. Honestly salmon was not the best protein pairing, but I don't like fresh fish to sit too long, so salmon it was.  These sweet and savory carrots would be even more delicious as an accompaniment for heavier meats like pork or beef.  Salmon was still a tasty choice making this one of the best meals I've made this summer.  Those potatoes were singing in my stomach.  I'll share that recipe next.  

For dessert Jeff and I split a peach and used it to mop the rest of the honey, butter, rosemary sauce off our plates.  Then we used our fingers to scrape out the rest of the syrup out of the pan.  Yeah, it was that good.  I have a new idea for dessert: rosemary caramelized peaches.     

Honey Caramelized Baby Carrots

1 pound of baby carrots, cleaned
1 tablespoon butter
2 sprigs of rosemary (about a tablespoon of fresh leaves or 1 teaspoon of dried)
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large heavy bottomed pan (a cast iron skillet or dutch oven would be ideal) melt the butter over high heat.  Add the carrots and rosemary leaves along with salt and pepper to taste. You want to cook the carrots a little more than half way to the final done. I like my carrots al dente so about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Then add the honey and keep cooking, stir the carrots regularly, scraping the honey off the bottom as it gets bubbly.  Continue cooking until the carrots are as done as you like.  I like them just cooked enough to put a fork through, about another 10 minutes.  Serve hot. 

7.23.2012

Dehydrated Beet Chips

 

Way back in January when I made my  Plan to Preserve I knew I needed more ways to preserve beets as there were quite a few left in the field at the co-op last year that no one pulled.  I ran across a recipe for beet chips.  The gal says she and her kids love them. It seemed easy, so I bookmarked the recipe and yesterday I tried it out.  


I used the slicing feature on my food processor and then overnight in the dehydrator at 125 degrees.  The beets looked pretty going in.  



What I got was about two cups of what appear to be rose petals.  Unfortunately they taste about like rose petals.  Initially sweet crunchy, then they get chewy with a very bitter after taste.  

It could be the beets I was using, but I doubt it.  Although I didn't use that batch for anything else, so I can't say for sure.


Anyone have any other ideas or recipes for how to preserve and enjoy beets this winter?

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop, Homestead Barn Hop

7.18.2012

Baby's First Six Weeks

New born

Just born! You can still see the crease in her head and she has all her dark hair.  I found it interesting that the hospital put three bands on her for ID purposes - one on each wrist and then one ankle.  They might as well have made it four so she could have one on every limb.

Six weeks old


Six weeks later and this little chickadee has lost quite a bit of hair (mostly in weeks 3-5).  It has started to grow back much lighter.  It's almost strawberry blond, especially her eye brows.  I am hoping to see some curl like Jeff's.  Although it's normal that curl won't show until six months to two years old, so I have a while to wait.  

It has been an incredibly hot dry summer.  The part of Indiana we are in is "extreme" droughty which is less than 1/3 the average rainfall for this time of year. The whole week of the 4th of July it was over 100 degrees.

Drought Monitor

I took the babe on several walks and down to the Farmer's Market.  When we got home she would be sweaty and hot.  There have been several flair-ups of heat rash on her chest, upper back and cheeks.  I've cut back on outings and the rash is mostly healed.  We are disinclined to use air conditioning, but no one was sleeping well so we have it set to cool the house to 82 degrees.  It has been running every day this July.

Milestones and achievements

We weren't shy about taking our baby out and about.  At four days old we took her out to the Hawkin's Farm for pizza on Friday night with my mom and aunt.  She slept through the whole thing in her car seat carrier.  We also went for lunch at the local coffee shop and grocery shopping.  She slept through both of those as well.


We breathed a sigh of relief at two weeks when baby had gained back her birth weight and a couple bonus ounces.  Not that it's a definitive sign of health, but it's one of those things doctor's look for in newborns.

The first time I was holding her and Jeff said something from another room and she swiveled her head and looked in his direction; is one of my favorite firsts.  That happened in week one.

I had my first baby-less outing at the end of June.  I renewed my driver's liscense and went grocery shopping; not very exciting.



In this last week we have even gotten what Jeff and I think of as real smiles.  They are most common after a long nap.  We also get some cooing and noises other than grunting and crying.  I had no idea that newborns were so grunt-y.



We love having a guest room in our new house and being able to put up a steady stream of family and friends.  We've also found friends locally.  It's nice to know there is someone in town to have a BBQ with or go to Pizza Friday.  This has been an exceptionally fun and social summer!

And we didn't even get a picture of everyone who came to visit! Nor does this include the local friends.  


Feeding

This was such a worry for me.  I read a bunch of books on breast feeding in preparation because I expected it to be hard.  So many friends have had trouble breast feeding.  I'm not sure how much the books helped, but we are an excellent breast feeding pair.  About an hour after birth we tried breast feeding and although it took a couple tries and the nurses' assistance (kind of weird to have someone else touch my nipple) baby got a latch.  I could get her to nurse on my own before we went home at 24 hours.

My milk came in on the 3rd and 4th day.  I started pumping a little that first week.  With the pumped milk it became an option for Jeff to feed her.  For weeks 2-5 I would go to bed at midnight and Jeff would stay up until four or five in the morning and take care of baby so I could get some sleep.  Then I would get up for the next feeding and Jeff would sleep until noon or so.

In this last week she has been sleeping longer and Jeff has done just one feeding.  Jeff stays up with her until the first feeding after midnight then he puts her down in the Co-sleeper next to me. Then I nurse her a couple more times through the night (and change a diaper or two) until I get up around eight in the morning.

A more recent development is scream-nursing.  It used to be I could reliably calm her down by offering her a breast, but now if she's upset she'll nurse a couple of sucks then stop and scream then suck again.  It's really disconcerting.  The trick seems to be to get her to settle down enough first then she'll nurse and relax.

Breast milk for donation
I'm happy to find that I have excess milk; enough to donate to Indiana Mother's Milk Bank.  I've filled out the paperwork and will soon do the blood screening.  So far I have 80 oz of milk frozen, roughly a half cup a day.  It makes me feel good that I will help IMMB provide pasteurized donor human milk by prescription or physician order to hospitals and outpatients throughout Indiana and the Midwest. Premature and ill infants in hospital neonatal intensive care units are the highest priority.

Cloth Diapering




We decided to use BumGenius cloth diapers which are a pocket style.  We started using them after the first week.  We have about 30 in rotation and wash them every other day.  I prefer the ones with the snaps.  The cloth wipes are easy once your doing cloth diapers.


Sleeping

Some folks say they can get their six week old to sleep through the night.  Not our little niƱa. She usually only sleeps a couple hours consecutively with occasional four hour naps.  She does like her bouncy seat or as we have dubbed it "the crash couch" which is a nod to some sci-fi novel we read in Peace Corps. She also enjoys just kicking around in it.






During the day she sleeps in her crib in her room which is in a more central location and at night in the co-sleeper attached to our bed.  

Me - Physical and Emotional

My baby and me

At four weeks I felt back to full strength.  Those first couple weeks were rough.  I didn't expect to be so worn down and sore.  I'd heard stories of mother's doing incredible things like running marathons or fixing their roof the week after having a baby.  And that's just what those are stories.  They are remarkable because they seem impossible.  Just walking for long was hard and I couldn't carry water out to my tomatoes.  The first time we went to the grocery store and I had her strapped to my chest in the mei-tai carrier while I pushed the cart was too much.

I only have about ten pounds of baby weight, which is good, but I feel like my middle needs some help.  I hope that gardening will be good for more than just veggies and will get my core back in shape.  If it doesn't, I'll have to implement some more direct measures this fall.  You'd think all this breast feeding and pumping would help, however, I am always hungry and I am eating more.

Emotionally I did experience the cliff of hormones and had a couple crying jags at the end of the first week.  Jeff would find me sniffling to myself and I couldn't tell him why.  I didn't feel particularly sad or anything, it was nothing I could pinpoint.  With a good night's sleep I made it through and have felt good ever since.

Back to the Farm


Sleeping at the Farm

At the end of the first month I emailed the farm and told them I was ready to start working again.  Then we got the heat wave and the baby got heat rash and we stayed home.  Last week I took her out a couple times to hoe a row and harvest some produce.  She just sits in her baby carrier in the shade while I work.  When I can't sooth her in the field it's time to go home.  It feels really good to get out and do some physical labor after being at home so long.


It got hot again this week and we had more guests so I haven't been back out to the farm.  If the heat continues, I might work in the evening and leave her at home with Jeff.  We are in peak garden time and the garden needs help. 


Simple Lives Thursday

7.07.2012

Ten Steps for Eating Locally Year Round - Guest Post by Carolyn Raffensperger


Veggies ready to be preserved for the winter.
Carolyn Raffensperger  gave me a copy of Nourishing Traditions which changed how I think about what and how I eat.  I hope to be like her when I grow up.  She wrote this note on FaceBook about how she organizes her life and pantry to eat locally.  After I read it I immediately wanted to run out in this 100 degree heat to pick blueberries.  I asked her permission to share it with you all.   Below are Carolyn's ten steps for storing food for year round bounty:
Carolyn Raffensperger - Photo credit to Carolyn's Neightbor

For the past 15 years I’ve tried to either produce my own food or get it from within ten miles of my house. Here’s how I do it along with lessons learned along the way.

My initial goal when I lived on our farm in North Dakota was to be self-sufficient. I had some experience canning and freezing food with my grandmother, but calculating amounts, planting and harvesting the total foods required was a new experience. I began by planting a one acre garden. I raised everything from dried edible beans, sweet potatoes, to popcorn and about 125 hills of potatoes, among the usual things like tomatoes and green beans. I made a lot of mistakes including planting about 35 hills of zucchini. Eventually I figured out what grew well and how to plan meals for the winter. I only planted one or two hills of zucchini after my first hilarious mistake. I should say that one acre was too big, but it gave me room to try things and make mistakes.

In 2000 I moved to Ames, Iowa and bought a house with an acre of land assuming that I was going to do exactly what I had done in North Dakota, grow all our food. But it became clear that the deer, groundhogs, raccoons and other beings thought they owned the land. Growing a large garden would require declaring war—not something I was willing to do. The creatures taught me a new goal, community sufficiency. By community I include the farmers, the animals, the pollinators, the prairie grasses, the disabled man down the block, my neighbors – all of them. This means that I attend to all these relationships when I am growing, buying, preserving and storing food. In Iowa I raise some food but mostly get it from two CSAs (community supported agriculture farms) that deliver boxes of produce every week and the farmers market.

So here’s what I do. Basically, I identify my household’s food habits (holidays and daily routines), calculate how much I need during the year, source the food and store it appropriately. The quantities and kinds of food don’t change much over the years unless the family gets bigger or smaller.

The Process:

1) Find out what grows well in your neighborhood and when it grows. 
Iowa is different than California or North Dakota. We have our own seasons and our own glorious foods. Sweet corn, for instance, is quintessentially Iowan. Our corn season is pretty long and we grow a lot of it. The kale that I dearly loved in North Dakota can be bitter in Iowa. Certain tomatoes that are rated highly on the east coast don’t taste good grown in the alkaline soils of North Dakota.

2) Calculate how many servings you want of any given foodstuff and obtain enough to preserve. 
I estimate the number of servings per week for my household times the weeks I’ll need food. So I budget for November 1 until May 15th – about six and a half months of fruits and vegetables with some things that carry over until they are ripe in July or August. I don’t buy much that isn’t grown right here, so I need to store enough for the household’s daily needs. For instance, I want about three or more servings a week per person of mixed leafy greens for five months (we have kale into November and dandelions by April). So I freeze about 60 quarts of mixed leafy greens, kale and chard with some mustard, spinach, beet greens and other things. 50 or more quarts of broccoli. And about 45 pints of various fruits since they are my primary source of vitamin c until the new greens emerge in the spring. All in all, I freeze mass quantities of shelled peas, leafy greens, broccoli, pea pods, green beans, corn, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and anything else I can find.

3) Preserving food is a hidden art, a lost art.
I’ve discovered that cookbooks assume that you have watched some older maternal relative make jam or blanch vegetables. It does help if you have someone show you a few basics before you launch a major canning or freezing project. I use three primary storage techniques: freezing, canning and storing things in a root cellar. I freeze things like tomatoes, fruit and most vegetables. I can things that I don’t depend on for vitamin C. Canning or any heat treatment destroys vitamin C. Most fruits can be frozen raw and used in the winter for smoothies and other things. I just pour raspberries into a bag, or hull and cut up strawberries and freeze. I can corn/cabbage relish, dilled green beans, Harvard beets and other pickles. I store potatoes, apples, winter squash, onions and bags of grain in the root cellar. Most vegetables require that you steam or blanch them for a few minutes before you freeze them. I freeze most things because it can be done so quickly. Sure you have to snap the ends off green beans, but you put a little water in the bottom of a pan, add the beans, cook them until they turn bright green, run them under cold water, put them in bags and freeze them. You will note that I don’t dry much food. My climate is damp and I don’t have a good food dehydrator.

4) I keep records of everything I freeze or store in a kitchen notebook. 
I include where I got the food, the date I froze or canned it and the amounts. This means I can check later to see if I preserved enough or too much. I also have a record of the weather and other natural phenomenon that coincides with the food. Are the peas harvested the same time every year? When were the fox kits emerging from their den? I have records going back 15 years.

5) There are some things no one tells you but you’ll need to know. I
 learned the hard way that you don’t store apples and carrots near each other. If you put them together, apples off-gas and make the carrots bitter. Don’t’ store onions and potatoes together. Sweet potatoes want to be kept warm. If you put them in the root cellar where the potatoes and onions are happy, the sweet potatoes turn black. If you are going to store a lot of food, its wise to check out best practices so you don’t waste your time or food. Two caveats. Prior to freezing I don’t cook vegetables as long as most cookbooks tell you to. You want to cook them through, but just. Don’t cook them until they are mush. The other caveat is pay scrupulous attention to cleanliness and possibilities for bacterial problems, especially when you are canning foods or freezing raw foods that you will not cook before eating.

6) Sourcing your food for the winter takes some planning.
I’ve convinced my farmer friends to provide winter shares and give me less lettuce or other uniquely summer foods that can’t be stored. Instead they bring me garbage bags full of green beans and leafy greens. In the fall I get 125 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of onions, winter squash and other things that I store in the root cellar. If your local CSA or farmer at the farmer’s market knows you want a large quantity of something, they can plan too. I’ve got farmers who raise shelling peas or other things just for me because I use such large quantities.

7) Look for recipes for the foods you have in excess – like cherries or raspberries. Test the recipes to make sure you’ll use those foods through the year. I have two plum trees and a couple of apple trees. Last fall a local chef created a magnificent fruit syrup out of honey from our farm, plums and the elderberries that grow wild in the yard. But you have to figure out how to use foods like that so they aren’t languishing in your pantry next year, unloved and uneaten. I do have some recipes and shortcuts that serve me well and that I use year after year. I combine Asian vegetables into a soup or stir fry mix in one freezer bag. So pea pods, broccoli, and mixed greens with some fresh cilantro are a combination I use frequently. I have another mix of corn, green beans, green peppers, and carrots that can become a country soup or shepherd’s pie. My hard work in the summer means I can be astonishingly lazy in the winter.

8) I put up extra food beyond what my household will eat. Because we raise cattle on our farm and I put up so much food, I am a source of food for people who don’t have access to much beyond what they can get with food stamps or at a food pantry. I have found that high quality protein, deep green vegetables and deep red fruits are hard to get and very expensive if you are living below the poverty level. My three freezers and large root cellar are part of my community’s assets. I am not entirely sure how people have found me over the years, but there is a steady stream of hungry people. I am continually surprised at how people crave something dark green or dark orange/red.

9) When I plan food for the winter, I keep my eye on mid March. That’s the season when it is still winter out, and I’ve been serving the same round of vegetables and fruit for months. Historically, that’s when people in our part of the world would have been at their lowest nutritional point. So I need to build in crunchy things and foods that feel fresh in the mouth. I especially need to be vigilant about vitamin C. This is when frozen fruit smoothies, pickles, salads out of shelled peas or the corn relish, maybe a salsa frozen in August, can do wonders for sparking the palate.

10) Energy consumption is a key factor in my food storage and preparation plans. 
I have three freezers located in a cold, underground garage. But they do take a lot of electricity. Canning takes some fuel and is usually done at the hottest time of the year – a double energy whammy if you need to cool your house afterward. Some of my friends do their canning on a Coleman stove outside so they don’t heat the house. Because I heat the house with a wood stove, I cook soup stock and dry edible beans in the winter on the stove and freeze them for the warmer seasons. Since freezers are more efficient if they are full, I add soup stock and cooked beans in the winter even as I deplete the vegetables and fruit.

*****

Foy, please feel free to use my note. I intended it to be helpful. I have added some new things to my summer practices namely quite a bit of fermentation. Kimchi is a star player in my kitchen now since it doesn't require canning or freezing. - Carolyn

This post was featured on: Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Simple Lives Thursday, Home is where the heart is

7.03.2012

Beets are Delicious - Recipes and Ideas

Beets are part of the share this week at Hope CSA/Hawkin's Farm.  Photo credit Zach Hawkins

Beets are one of those vegetables that I didn't grow up eating or even acknowledging.  Unless you count the pickled beet rings that my grandma would put out on the condiment tray at every holiday meal.  I'm not even sure what they tasted like, as far as the school-aged me was concerned they were merely decorative.

Two years ago I put up a post entitled:

Recipes, Ideas and Inspiration for Beets


At the time I was working on figuring out how to enjoy beets. I am happy to report that I now like beets and I'm excited to see them on the CSA harvest list for the week.  It wasn't so much that I didn't like them, as I had no idea what to do with them.  Perhaps you're in the same kettle?  How do you like your beets? Keep reading for my favorite ways to eat them.

Currently the Hawkin's Family Farm Co-op is harvesting some beautiful beets.  They are growing four kinds this year 'Red Ace', 'Chioggia', 'Golden' and 'Bull's Blood'.  Zach Hawkins, tells me: 
The Red Ace is a good all-around beet.  It grows quickly, and stays sweet and tender even as it gets a little bigger and older.  The golden beets have a mild, sweet flavor and a pretty color.  They're probably my favorite, in part, because they're a bit difficult to get to germinate...so it's kind of like a challenge.  The Chioggia beets are an Italian heirloom variety with distinctive candy cane or bullseye striping in the roots.  The Bull's Blood produces really beautiful greens, and is often grown for salad mixes.  It also has striping in the root.
Beet tops as salad greens?  I haven't tried that yet.  I imagine the younger the green the more tender it will be. 


Here are my favorite ways to eat the beets:



Butternut Beet Soup, this would be more of a fall recipe if we weren't still able to get stored winter squash from River Ridge Farm!



Panamanian Beet and Potato Salad, is another fun way to enjoy beets.  This is a typical party food in Panama.  It's also a great one to bring to potlucks and BBQs.  



This is one of my favorite beet recipes: Roasted Beets, Peaches and Goat Cheese Salad with a Citrus Pecan Dressing.  I posted the recipe earlier this week. The tart flavor of the peaches marries the earthy flavor of the beet and they really compliment each other well.  Although this isn't looking to be a good peach year.  Many of the orchards in north east Indiana got hit by frost right as the trees were blooming.  Perhaps we'll be able to get some good ones from Michigan.  

We've also taken to grilling beets as a side with burgers.  Simply peal and then slice into half inch thick coins.  Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and grill over medium heat for 8-10 minutes per side.

I've been working on this post for a week!  It took me so long because of her.  She's a good problem to have.


This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday #103

7.01.2012

Pan Roasted Beets, Peaches and Goat Cheese Salad with a Citrus Pecan Dressing - Recipe


With the 95 plus degree days we been having, a summer salad is one of the main things on our menu.  Plus it is quick, which is important now that most of my cooking happens in 10 minute increments while holding a baby.  


Pan Roasted Beets, Peaches and Goat Cheese Salad is one of my favorites and a great way to show case beets.  Their simple earthy flavor and bold cranberry color make an unexpected and beautiful combination with tart peaches and creamy goat cheese.  This is an excellent lunch or make smaller portions for an appetizer.  

My recipe was inspired by a similar dish I ordered at Lucrezia Cafe after a visit to the Chesterton European Market in north west Indiana.  If you ever find yourself in the neighborhood you should go to the Saturday market and then eat at Lucrezia's.  It's one of the things I miss most about living in Valparaiso.

Roasted Beets, Peaches and Goat Cheese Salad

2 ripe peaches
4 beets
2 oz goat cheese

2 tablespoons toasted pecans
1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt

Serves 2

  1. Peel and slice the beets into half inch thick coins.  Then over medium heat cook them until fork tender in a dash of olive oil; about 15-20 minutes. Arrange the beets onto plates.  A light colored plate is a must to show off the beautiful colors of this salad.
     
  2. For the dressing in a small bowl whisk to combine the citrus juice, olive oil and pinch of salt.  Then drizzle over the beets.  The color of the beets will bleed into the dressing.
     
  3. Cut the peaches into wedges place on top of the beets.
     
  4. Dab goat cheese onto each peach. I wouldn't blame you if you used more than 1 oz of goat cheese per person.
     
  5. Sprinkle the toasted pecans over top.  Serve chilled or at room temperature and enjoy!