What to do with the yummy things in a Spring CSA bag

I got asparagus, mint, strawberries and baby greens and a whole lot more in my CSA bag!

Spring is amazing here because, in a matter of weeks, the produce world goes from collard greens, onions, and sweet potatoes, to some of the most exciting produce of the year!  In April, our CSA members get fresh spring asparagus, as well as young baby mixed greens, kale, spinach, sweet onions, mint, and fresh pesticide free strawberries!  Wow! What a plethora of yumminess!  Here are some suggestions for these fresh tasties.

asparagus and mushrooms veronicaAsparagus:  

  1. Wrap it in a wet paper towel and microwave it for 2 minutes.  Unwrap it, add fresh butter, add sea salt and enjoy the simple fresh flavor of just cut asparagus.  
  2. Buy some fresh mushrooms and green garlic or ramps at the market.  Sauté the ramps or green garlic in a good chunk of butter (or ghee). When soft, add a bunch of chopped mushrooms; when mushrooms are soft, add chopped asparagus.  Finish with sea salt.  
  3. This recipe came from a market DAD!  Sauté shallots in olive oil or butter.  When fragrant, add fresh washed chopped asparagus (with the water from washing still on it). Saute just a few minutes, until bright, and add a splash of wine vinegar and sea salt.  This one really impressed me. It was so so yummy.  Then, I got creative and combined number 2 with this one.  I added mushrooms to the mix.  
  4. Grill it up along with the steak!  Toss whole asparagus in olive oil.  Throw it on the grill for just a few minutes, after the steak is done and while it is resting.  When it gets some grill lines on it, it is done.  Finish with sea salt, or even a fancy salt, like truffle salt.  A squeeze of lemon is really great on grilled asparagus also.

strawberriesStrawberries:

  1. Just eat them.  No instructions needed.
  2. Make a smoothie out of kefir and strawberries.  Tastes like strawberry cheesecake.  Great way to get some kefir in the kids.  
  3. Whip up some fresh cream.  Add fresh sliced strawberries.  Add grated dark chocolate.  Add thin ribbons of sliced mint.  So easy and so elegant.

baby trout lettuce2

Baby greens:

Baby greens can be any mixture of baby leaves.  It might include sweet mild lettuce, or it might include baby kale, chard, choy, radish tops, tiny turnip leaves, and mustard leaves all mixed up.  It is a highlight of spring.

  1. Toss them on the plate. Add some chopped chives or spring onions.   Drizzle with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Can’t beat it.
  2. Use them as a bed for steak, fish, chicken, or even a frittata!
  3. Make greens and eggs.  Fry out some chopped bacon and set aside.  Fry 2 over easy eggs in the bacon grease.  Place the eggs and crumbled bacon on a plate piled with fresh greens.  Once the eggs are out of the pan, heat the leftover bacon grease with some wine vinegar and minced onions, shallots, garlic, or ramps.  Drizzle all over the eggs, bacon and greens.  Enjoy a fresh spring breakfast.  

Eat up those spring veggies in your CSA bag!

Robin

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Grain Free Breakfast Wraps

Sometimes, I just want a breakfast I can pick up with my hands and forget that I never eat junk food.  A breakfast wrap works pretty well for that!   I finally found a grain free wrap that is soft enough to make a nice wrap, tastes great, is reasonably low carb, and makes a great breakfast wrap.  They are called Paleo Wraps and are made from coconut.  This changes the breakfast world, because you can make these the night before, and have them ready to quickly heat up and head out the door!

Ingredients.

  • ½ pound of breakfast sausage
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped mushrooms
  • 6 beaten eggs
  • Chopped spinach
  • 1 pack of Paleo Wraps
  • Your favorite cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Implement it:

Fry out the sausage with the onions and mushrooms.  Add the beaten eggs and scramble it all together until done but soft.  Spread on your Paleo Wraps.  Add chopped spinach.  Add cheese and salt and pepper.  Roll them up and enjoy!  These save well in the fridge also. 

Ok, so here is a secret cheat.  Take your Paleo Wrap and smear it with coconut butter.  Smear with almond butter.  Then add some dark chocolate pieces.  Roll it up.  Microwave it for about 20 seconds.  I can`t even describe the gooey chocolatey yumminess of this treat.  

Eat your veggies,

Robin

Grain Free Breakfast Wraps
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Ingredients
  1. ½ pound of breakfast sausage
  2. Chopped onions
  3. Chopped mushrooms
  4. 6 beaten eggs
  5. Chopped spinach
  6. 1 pack of Paleo Wraps
  7. Your favorite cheese
  8. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Fry out the sausage with the onions and mushrooms. Add the beaten eggs and scramble it all together until done but soft. Spread on your Paleo Wraps. Add chopped spinach. Add cheese and salt and pepper. Roll them up and enjoy! These save well in the fridge also.
Notes
  1. Ok, so here is a secret cheat. Take your Paleo Wrap and smear it with coconut butter. Smear with almond butter. Then add some dark chocolate pieces. Roll it up. Microwave it for about 20 seconds. I can`t even describe the gooey chocolatey yumminess of this treat.
Bell's Best Berries http://bellsbestberries.com/
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Planning Your Menu Around Your CSA Bag

CSA Bag OE copy

The great thing about a CSA is that you get beautiful, fresh, local veggies.  The difficult part can be getting things you are not used to eating.  Many people eat the same basic 4-5 veggies week after week, regardless of whether they are in season or not.  A CSA turns that on its ear, because each bag contains only what is in season locally, and changes as the seasons change.  If you are used to picking up lettuce, tomatoes, and broccoli at the store, getting a big bag of asparagus, spinach, kale, beets, sweet potatoes, onions, thyme, arugula and parsley can present some challenges!  First of all, how can you eat all that in a week?  Secondly, this is going to require some menu changes!

Asparagus dinner2

baby beets2

sweet potatoesWhen you get your bag home, it is a great idea to wash and spin dry (and store in a big zip lock) your leafy veggies.  Then, take inventory and make a plan.  Here is what I would do with the veggies I listed above, and the specific directions are detailed below the list.

 

 

  1. Make a frittata with the spinach, parsley and onions.  
  2. Make a breakfast hash with the sweet potatoes, onions, thyme and kale.
  3. Roast the rest of the sweet potatoes, along with some beets for dinner.
  4. Wrap one or two of the beets up in tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes.  Chill and chop up to top salads.
  5. Make an arugula, beets and goat cheese salad to go with dinner.
  6. Roast a chicken with olive oil, garlic and thyme (some sweet potatoes could get roasted with the chicken if you didn’t use them in #2 or #3).
  7. Toss the asparagus in olive oil and sea salt.  Roast on the grill with a juicy steak.
  8. Chop up any leftover asparagus and put it in a pilaf with onions, parsley, slivered almonds, and Gouda cheese.  

Oh my, we are out of veggies and it has only been three days!  What a yummy week of eating.  

Eat your veggies,

Robin

Fritatta:  Fry out bacon or sausage with onions.  Add the spinach and parsley.  Add 5-6 beaten eggs.  Top with grated cheese.  Bake until set, about 20 min 400 degrees.

Breakfast hash:  Cut sweet potato in small cubes.  Rough chop onions.  Rough chop kale (stems removed).  Remove thyme leaves from the stem.  Fry the cut sweet potatoes and onions in coconut oil (or any other oil you like) until soft.  Add the chopped kale and thyme.  Serve with a couple of fried eggs on top.

Roasted Root Veggies:  Cut root veggies up into similar sized pieces.  I like them about 1 inch square.  Toss with olive oil and add salt and any herbs or spices you like. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 about 20-30 minutes or until beginning to brown.

Arugula/Beet Salad:  Put some arugula in a small bowl or plate.  Add sliced roasted beets.  Add a blob of yummy goat cheese.  Add some walnuts.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Chicken:  Rub an entire chicken (inside and out) with a mixture of olive oil, salt, garlic, and fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, or oregano.  Cram a quartered onion in the cavity.  Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until done.

Asparagus and Gouda pilaf: Measure out broth and rice according to rice package directions.  Put the broth on to heat in a saucepan.  In a separate frying pan sauté onions or leeks in plenty of butter.  When translucent, add the dry rice and sauté until beginning to brown.  Add the chopped asparagus, chopped parsley, and slivered almonds.  Mix well and put the mixture into the pot of simmering broth.  Simmer until the liquid is absorbed.  Finish with small chunks of Gouda cheese, sea salt and pepper, and more chopped parsley.  Stir well until everything is mixed, melted, and fluffed.  Serve as a lovely side dish.

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Why are there flowers in my CSA bag?

Over the years, we have offered beautiful edible flowers to our chefs.  Some of them grow wild, such as lovely violas and wisteria petals, and some are cultivated such as mini roses, cilantro flowers, parsley flowers, and kale blossoms.  Chefs love them, and this year we are even putting them in our CSA bags!  Flowers are a beautiful part of spring, and there is no reason we all can’t enjoy them at the dinner table.  Here are some great reasons to eat your flowers.

photo credit @organiceater

They are beautiful!  Tossing a handful of lovely flowers across the top of your salad turns it into something really special.  I have made my same old boring kale salad hundreds of times, then add some pretty little yellow broccoli blooms to it and suddenly, it is the most popular and elegant dish at the party!  I had a handsome young man stop by the market last week and purchased two pints of wild violas.  I asked what he was going to do with them, and he told me his wife was coming home from some business travel that night and he wanted to surprise her with a beautiful meal.  The flowers would grace the plate.  Don’t underestimate the value of beauty on your plate.  

They are good for you!  Flowers add a different nutritional profile compared to most foods we eat.  They are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and other less characterized phytonutrients.  Not only that, they have pollen in them. Eating the natural pollens from your environment has been reported to reduce allergies.  It is the same reason many people eat local honey that contains pollen.  

They taste good!  The taste of flowers can range from spicy to sweet to bitter.  Often, the flavor resembles the flavor of the plant it comes from.  For example, cilantro flowers taste similar to cilantro, but not exactly.  Rose petals taste similar to the way a rose smells.  Violas taste sweet and delicate.  Mustard flowers taste spicy.  Their flavor is almost never overwhelming.  It is delicate, like flowers are.  

People have eaten flowers historically and even now.  In days gone by, people made “sugared violets”.  I avoid sugar, but I still think the concept is really cool.  You basically dip violets in egg white and then coat with ultrafine sugar.  Here is a recipe if you want to try it.  Another traditional spring dish using violets is to smear really good bread with real butter, and then sprinkle with violets.  Eat open faced!  At our farm dinner, Chef Craig Barbour always uses spring flowers in his salads.  He tosses rose petals in there, mustard flowers, and even herb flowers.  I’ve seen people mix yellow mustard flowers in with soft goat cheese for a delicate peppery flavor.  A friend at the market always looks for yellow mustard flowers to sprinkle on top of her grilled fish.  I love cilantro flowers on my omelet.  The options are endless!

Our CSA members who subscribe to our standard sized bags will be getting edible flowers for the next few weeks.  Get brave veggie eaters!  You can’t go wrong with something so lovely.

Eat your veggies! And your flowers,

Robin

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Keeping the Bugs at Bay

It is important to me to not expose myself, my family, our workers, nor our customers to toxic chemicals.   For this reason, people often ask me how we manage insect pests on our farm without chemicals.  The answer is pretty simple:  we intercrop.  We bolster the plant’s natural defenses.  We encourage diverse populations of beneficial insects.  We use natural products such as extracts, soaps, or natural oils, and if all else fails, we simply do not grow the crop.  

Insect pests love it when they can find a big expanse of their favorite food. They get right in there and start munching away, having babies, and calling in all their buddies!  Just a few caterpillars or mites can quickly turn into a zillion.  One of our strategies for managing this is to confuse the pests by mixing up the crops. 

P1010030For example: Caterpillars especially love crops in the brassica family, such as kale, broccoli, and cabbage.  If you plant them all together in one big field, you will be supplying an all-you-can-eat buffet!  To solve this problem, we spread these crops all around the farm.  We also try to “hide” them among other crops the pests might not like.  For example, we may plant 3 lines of something in the kale or cabbage family (that caterpillars love) and then switch to a few lines of something in a different family, such as lettuce or beets, that isn’t a host for that pest.  The hope is that even if a pest gets into one area, it won’t easily move on to other areas.  

Additionally, we try to harness the crops’ natural ability to deter pests.  When plants perceive the presence of a pest, they spring into action, producing compounds that may taste bad to insects, inhibit their reproduction, or possibly make them sick.  These are often phenolic compounds and antioxidants,that may even have a positive impact on human health.   Plants also can produce volatile methyl jasmonate, which acts as an attractant to beneficial insects, further helping to manage the bad guys.  It has been proven by a graduate student at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College that treating your crop with seaweed extract elicits one of the same pathways within the plant that is responsible for this natural resistance1.  Our crops get a good weekly dose of seaweed extract.  It helps them grow better, resist pests better and ultimately yield better! 

P1010036

There are other natural products that can also deter insects.  Neem oil has been proven to deter many insects, as well as, in some cases, disrupt their life cycle.  We often use a bit of that in our seaweed applications.  Non-toxic soaps can kill insects because they penetrate the outer shell of soft bodied pests such as aphids or mealy bugs.  Natural oils, such as orange oil, can smother insects such as mites, as well as deter insects.  Some people use strong smelling botanical oils, such as cinnamon or garlic oil, that they say work well.  We have not done that, but I hear good things about it.  

Another great strategy is to ensure there are plenty of beneficial insects around, by planting rows of herbs and flowers, where the beneficials like to live and reproduce.  We intentionally leave rows of older crops to “go to flower”, as well as plant new types of flowering crops for this purpose.  Keeping those older crops cleaned out can sometimes be a mistake because it eliminates natural habitat to some of our best friends, beneficial insects.  Lady bugs love to live in parsley and cilantro.  They don’t harm crops, but they are voracious predators to pests such as aphids.  Green lacewings are not only lovely, they also hunt and eat soft bodied insects such as aphids.  Other good guys include assassin bugs, minute pirate bugs, big eyed bugs, and even different types of beetles.  All these good guys need a home.  Without an appropriate habitat, you will have far less beneficials, which means far more pests.  Bees that pollenate the crop also need places to hide and forage.  They love clusters of flowers and herbs.  

P1010031

Lastly, if a crop truly has so many enemies that it cannot be grown without applications of chemicals, then we simply choose not to grow it.  It probably means the varieties available are not well suited to our environment, and that maybe growing something else is a better idea.  Last year, I tried to grow Amaranth.  This is a specialty green that grows well in our summer heat. However, it is so prone to flea beetles, there was no way to grow it without being full of holes that ruined the appearance.  I probably will not grow that one again.  I have found that many types of squash are also in the same category.  This last strategy is probably the best advice of all:  choose crops that grow well in your area and are mostly care free.  Don’t even engage in the war!

Eat your veggies,

Robin

1Extracts of the marine brown macroalga, Ascophyllum nodosum, induce jasmonic acid dependent systemic resistance in Arabidopsis thaliana against Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.  Subramanian et. al. European Journal of Plant Pathology, April 2011.

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Fermented Dandelion Stems

Dandelion greens are up and growing!  Our CSA members get them several times a year in their bag, and they always bring questions.  Historically, dandelion greens have been considered almost medicinal and are called a “digestive bitter”.  They have a bitter taste, however, when eaten prior to a meal, they prepare your stomach for food by eliciting appropriate gastric enzymes.  The bitter taste is the problem.  When I saw this post for fermented dandelion stems last week, I had to share it.  It came from Learning Herbs.   http://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/dandelion-recipes/  To begin with, remove the dandelion stems from the leaves.  Chop the leaves in thin ribbons and use them on the top of a salad.  Their bitter flavor tastes nice in a salad (similar to arugula), and the dressing mutes the bitter flavor a bit.  Save the beautiful stems and start fermenting!  We grow a lovely red stemmed Italian dandelion that is just lovely for this recipe.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch of dandelion stems
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander
  • 1 bay leaf

Implement it:

Cut your stems the right length to fit in a widemouth pint jar, with the cut ends all facing down.  Pack them in the jars.  Make your brine by heating water to a boil and adding salt and all the spices.   When it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.  The ingredients I listed above are copied from the Learning Herbs website.  You can make this recipe exactly as they wrote it, or you can make it your own by adding any spices you like, or don’t add any at all, just use salt and water.  When the brine is cool, pour it over your stems.  You could make this taste like dill pickles by using garlic and chopped fresh dill.  You can make it hot by adding more chili flakes or fresh hot peppers.  If you don’t have any dandelion greens, no problem!  You can use chard stems, kale stems, thin collard stems, or beet stems.  The concept is very flexible.  If you have a weight that you can add to each jar, to weigh down the stems and keep them below the water, drop it in there after you add the brine.  I use Pickle Pebbles for this, and they work great!  If you don’t have a weight, push the mixture below the water every day (keeping veggies below the water line is key in fermenting). Put a loose lid on the jar and let sit in a cool place for a week or so, then refrigerate.  I let mine sit on the counter out of direct light with our normal house temperature around 68 degrees.  That seems to work well.  Don’t put it near a heat vent, on the stove, in a dark closet, or in a sunny window.  Just a normal kitchen counter at a coolish room temperature.  I use a Pickle Pipe instead of a loose lid and get perfect results every time.  If you are new at fermenting, I suggest you get the Pickle Pebbles and Pickle Pipe.  Together they keep your mix below the water line, so it ferments well and doesn’t get yeast.  The Pickle Pipe releases air as things ferment, and keeps outside microbes from getting in.  If at the end of the week, you have a small layer of yeast on top, just scoop it off and put your jars in the fridge.  Enjoy!

Eat your fermented veggies, 

Robin

Fermented Dandelion Greens
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large bunch of dandelion stems
  2. 2 cups of filtered water
  3. 1 tablespoon salt
  4. 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  5. 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
  6. 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  7. 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  8. 1 teaspoon whole coriander
  9. 1 bay leaf
Instructions
  1. Cut your stems the right length to fit in a widemouth pint jar, with the cut ends all facing down.
  2. Pack them in the jars.
  3. Make your brine by heating water to a boil and adding salt and all the spices.
  4. When it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  5. When the brine is cool, pour it over your stems.
  6. You could make this taste like dill pickles by using garlic and chopped fresh dill.
  7. You can make it hot by adding more chili flakes or fresh hot peppers.
  8. If you don’t have any dandelion greens, no problem!
  9. You can use chard stems, kale stems, thin collard stems, or beet stems. The concept is very flexible. If you have a weight that you can add to each jar, to weigh down the stems and keep them below the water, drop it in there after you add the brine. I use Pickle Pebbles for this, and they work great! If you don’t have a weight, push the mixture below the water every day (keeping veggies below the water line is key in fermenting). Put a loose lid on the jar and let sit in a cool place for a week or so, then refrigerate. I let mine sit on the counter out of direct light with our normal house temperature around 68 degrees. That seems to work well. Don’t put it near a heat vent, on the stove, in a dark closet, or in a sunny window. Just a normal kitchen counter at a coolish room temperature.
  10. I use a Pickle Pipe instead of a loose lid and get perfect results every time. If you are new at fermenting, I suggest you get the Pickle Pebbles and Pickle Pipe. Together they keep your mix below the water line, so it ferments well and doesn’t get yeast. The Pickle Pipe releases air as things ferment, and keeps outside microbes from getting in. If at the end of the week, you have a small layer of yeast on top, just scoop it off and put your jars in the fridge. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. The ingredients I listed above are copied from the Learning Herbs website. You can make this recipe exactly as they wrote it, or you can make it your own by adding any spices you like, or don’t add any at all, just use salt and water.
Bell's Best Berries http://bellsbestberries.com/
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A Hearty German Breakfast

Spring is the season for cabbage!  In our area of NC, cabbage is planted in the late winter and is at its finest in the spring.  In some areas of NC, cabbage can even be planted in the fall, and harvested all winter long.  Many people are not sure what to do with cabbage, except to make slaw.  I love slaw, but I don’t want to eat it every week!  Last week, I used it in a breakfast dish that my family loved.  

Cabbage is such a nutritional powerhouse! It is well worth learning some new ways to cook it.  Check out what nutritionandyou.com has to say about it!  

“The vegetable is a storehouse of phyto-chemicals like thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zea-xanthin, sulforaphane, and isothiocyanates. These compounds are powerful antioxidants and known to help protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels in the blood”

*photo credit @organiceater

*photo credit @organiceater

This recipe is simple, yummy and will keep you full and nourished all the way until lunch!  It also makes a great lunch or dinner.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 cabbage (green, red, or napa) rough chopped
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 package of brats
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter
  • Eggs

Implement it:

Remove the brats from the casings and toss them in a frying pan, along with the chopped onion on medium/high heat.  Let them cook until brats are brown and onions are translucent.  Add the chopped cabbage, and stir until well mixed and the cabbage is nicely wilted.  Add generous salt and pepper.  While all this is cooking, melt some butter into a small frying pan.  Cook 4 fresh eggs in the butter “sunny side up” until the white is done and the yolk is soft.  Put the brats/cabbage mix on a plate and add two eggs on top.  Serve it up!  Yummy!

Eat your veggies, 

Robin

Cabbage and Brats
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cabbage (green, red, or napa) rough chopped
  2. 1 onion (chopped)
  3. 1 package of brats
  4. Salt and pepper
  5. Butter
  6. Eggs
Instructions
  1. Remove the brats from the casings and toss them in a frying pan, along with the chopped onion on medium/high heat. Let them cook until brats are brown and onions are translucent. Add the chopped cabbage, and stir until well mixed and the cabbage is nicely wilted. Add generous salt and pepper. While all this is cooking, melt some butter into a small frying pan. Cook 4 fresh eggs in the butter “sunny side up” until the white is done and the yolk is soft. Put the brats/cabbage mix on a plate and add two eggs on top. Serve it up! Yummy!
Bell's Best Berries http://bellsbestberries.com/
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Gluten Free Asian Style Soup with Shirataki Noodles

bone brothIf you are someone who is avoiding grains and sugar, then you are going to love this recipe!  It is full of healthy bone broth, fermented miso, healthy veggies, pre-biotic fiber and anti-inflammatory herbs.   It also is sugar and gluten free as well as extremely low carb.  Even better it is delicious.  This recipe is made with shirataki noodles.  You can find these strange noodles in the refrigerated section of the grocery store near the tofu in the produce section.  You can also find them in Asian grocery stores or order them from Amazon!

They are made from a type of sweet potato fiber that is a great prebiotic fiber.  They also have no carbs or calories because they are 100% fiber.  I had this for dinner last night, and can vouch for the fact that they are a little odd, but work perfectly in an Asian soup.

shirataki

Ingredients:

  • About a quart of bone broth
  • 2-3 Tbs of Miso paste
  • Chunk of peeled and grated ginger
  • Chopped cooked meat
  • Chopped pac choy
  • Chopped mushrooms
  • 2 bags of shirataki spaghetti, fettuccini, or angel hair noodles
  • Sliced scallions
  • Soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • Splash of fish sauce
  • Make it fancy with any of these:  Fresh lime, chopped basil, chopped cilantro, chili garlic sauce, thin sliced hot peppers, handful of beansprouts

Implement it:

Put the bonebroth and ginger in a big pot to simmer.  When it comes to a boil, add the miso, meat, pac choy and mushrooms.  Let simmer.  While it is simmering, prepare the shirataki noodles by removing them from the bag and rinsing them well in a colander under cold water.   Don’t let the odd fishy smell scare you.  It comes from the sweet potato fiber, and is why they are rinsed thoroughly.  After rinsing, give them a quick rough chop on the chopping block and add to the soup.  Bring back up to a simmer and turn off the heat.  Add about a tablespoon of coconut aminos or soy sauce and a splash or two of fish sauce.   Toss in the sliced scallions.  Serve it up!  

You can make this fancy by topping each bowl with fresh herbs such as cilantro or basil.  You can also spice it up with some chili garlic sauce or thin sliced hot peppers.  A squeeze of lime also adds a nice flavor.  

I promise, this healthy warming soup will check the box for both a delicious and healthy noodle soup. 

Gluten Free Asian Style Soup with Shirataki Noodles
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Ingredients
  1. About a quart of bone broth
  2. 2-3 Tbs of Miso paste
  3. Chunk of peeled and grated ginger
  4. Chopped cooked meat
  5. Chopped pac choy
  6. Chopped mushrooms
  7. 2 bags of shirataki spaghetti, fettuccini, or angel hair noodles
  8. Sliced scallions
  9. Soy sauce or coconut aminos
  10. Splash of fish sauce
  11. Make it fancy with any of these: Fresh lime, chopped basil, chopped cilantro, chili garlic sauce, thin sliced hot peppers, handful of beansprouts
Instructions
  1. Put the bonebroth and ginger in a big pot to simmer. When it comes to a boil, add the miso, meat, pac choy and mushrooms. Let simmer. While it is simmering, prepare the shirataki noodles by removing them from the bag and rinsing them well in a colander under cold water. Don’t let the odd fishy smell scare you. It comes from the sweet potato fiber, and is why they are rinsed thoroughly. After rinsing, give them a quick rough chop on the chopping block and add to the soup. Bring back up to a simmer and turn off the heat. Add about a tablespoon of coconut aminos or soy sauce and a splash or two of fish sauce. Toss in the sliced scallions. Serve it up!
Notes
  1. You can make this fancy by topping each bowl with fresh herbs such as cilantro or basil. You can also spice it up with some chili garlic sauce or thin sliced hot peppers. A squeeze of lime also adds a nice flavor.
  2. I promise, this healthy warming soup will check the box for both a delicious and healthy noodle soup.
Bell's Best Berries http://bellsbestberries.com/
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What Is Rabbit Eye Ridge?

RabbitEyeRidge_Logo2015 We have a new pick up location for our CSA this year. It is our new farm, Rabbit Eye Ridge! This has raised a lot of questions about what Rabbit Eye Ridge is and where it is located. Let’s start with a little history of our business. We started our CSA about 5 years ago, with our blueberries and veggies grown at our home and farm in Unionville, N.C. We named it “Bells Best Berries” because our focus was blueberries, and we thought we would be a blueberry farm. Over the years, that has changed. To begin with, we grow a lot more than just blueberries! We also grow a huge array of mixed vegetables and herbs. These things go into our CSA bags, and we also sell them at Atherton Market. Over the years, people started asking why our name is Bells Best Berries when, other than during blueberry season, most of what we grow are vegetables!

planting new blueberry bushes at Rabbit Eye Ridge

Then, it got even more complicated, because as our CSA grew, we began to have trouble growing enough produce from our small farm in Unionville to meet the need of our growing CSA and market customers. So, last year we purchased a new farm near Mint Hill to help solve that problem. It is located at the corner of Hwy 218 and Mill Grove Rd. The first thing we did was to plant nearly 1000 blueberry bushes. Not just any variety will do well here in the south. We have found that a special type of blueberry, called a “Rabbit Eye” blueberry seem to work best for us. This type of blueberry has very few pest problems, grows well in our heavy soils, as well as tolerates our mild winters and yields well. Now you know why the name of the farm is Rabbit Eye Ridge! It is named after the type of blueberries we planted.

compost2

Soon after we named the farm, I got a sweet note from one of our CSA members. She had been reading a book called “Animal Speak”. She told me that in Native American culture, rabbits are often associated with fertility, new life, and healing. I’ll take all that good energy! I believe real food brings those characteristics, and it is my prayer that Rabbit Eye Ridge can represent those things.

planting

Rabbit Eye Ridge is a much bigger farm than our home in Unionville, so our plan is that it will be our production farm. It not only will be the home of those 1000 blueberry bushes, it also has enough space to grow all the vegetables we need. In addition, we planted grapes, blackberries, raspberries, and chokecherries. Rabbit Eye Ridge will be the backbone of our farming operation. If you drive by, you will see that it is definitely a working farm, and not a show place. There is equipment around, a storage container, piles of compost, and pipe laid out for our irrigation system. Speaking of irrigation, that is another reason Rabbit Eye Ridge will be our main production farm. It has a well and irrigation to ensure, despite crazy weather, we can still fill our CSA bags!

So, what happens to our original farm in Unionville? And if our farm business is so much more than blueberries, what should we call it? Our farm and home in Unionville will still be in production, however, it will be more of our private inner sanctum. We will plant our more unusual specialty crops, herbs, and even our own kitchen garden in Unionville. We will host our intimate “Farm to Table Dinner” in Unionville. We also will host our annual blueberry picking day for children. These events are things we do for our beloved CSA members, and are happy to share our private sanctum with them. We still haven’t resolved the problem of what to call ourselves. I’m not sure. For now we have two farms, Rabbit Eye Ridge and our home in Unionville. Now all we need is a business name! Got any ideas?

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Let the Children Choose

Some of my happiest days are the ones when I am asked to babysit one of the grandchildren.  It does present some challenges, though.  Most kids head off to Grandma’s, pretty sure they will be getting all kinds of treats and candy.  It doesn’t work like that here at Nana Robin’s place.  We do not have cookies, crackers, candy, ice cream, or any other processed foods here at the farm.  We eat the food we grow, along with plenty of meats, fruits, cheese, whole milk, and yummy butter!  This was such a worry for one of our pretty little ones, that she was always in the kitchen trying to tell me what to cook.  Unfortunately, none of her requests were in my repertoire.  I think the real reason she wanted to tell me what to cook was because she was afraid the meal might contain things she doesn’t like, and that she might be asked to eat something she wasn’t comfortable with.  We came up with a wonderful way to solve this problem.  I get the job of choosing what I cook and serve.  She gets the job of deciding if she wants to eat it or not.  How empowering!  

I no longer have her telling me to cook chicken fingers, and she no longer worries she might have to eat something she doesn’t like.  I am amazed at how well this works.  I try to make sure our meals include healthy options, with a few things I know she will like.  She enjoys any type of simple meat, butter, bacon, broccoli, cauliflower, raw carrots, cucumber slices, cheese, and of course, any type of fruit.  It really isn’t very hard to piece meals together that incorporate great nutrition and a happy kid.  

There are a few other key components.  We have three full meals every day.  Nothing but water in between.  We also have lots of outdoor time in the sun playing hard.  This weekend, we collected spring flowers for our dinner bouquet.  We foraged for herbs for some bone broth we were cooking (wild garlic, wild onions, nettle, chickweed, wild sorrel along with a whole bunch of cultivated herbs).   She got dumped out of the hammock multiple times.  She launched herself off the picnic table on a tree swing.  She helped rake and smooth out some freshly tilled beds for planting.  By the time lunch time came around, we had cauliflower crust pizza and apple slices smeared with peanut butter and whole milk.  That lunch disappeared in the blink of an eye.  

People often ask me how they can get their kids to eat healthy.  Here it is:  stop buying “kid foods”.  For some, that means stop eating out more than you cook at home, and completely opt out of the “kids menu” mentality. For some, that means stop buying kid food and junk food from the grocery store. You decide the meals, so make them something great, and that doesn’t mean complicated or fancy cooking (have you seen the recipes on this blog?). If your child decides not to eat some of it, no problem.  They get to decide that part.  Please please do not give a child the decision making ability for what should be included in a nutritious meal, if eating this way is new for them.  They will ask for fast food, tater tots, chicken fingers, French fries, and sweets.  The adult decides what will be included in a nutritious meal.  The child decides what of it he will eat.  Then, be sure that by the time meals come around, the child is hungry.  This won’t happen if they are offered snacks and sweet drinks constantly. There is a much better chance of a healthy meal being eaten and enjoyed if everyone has a great appetite.  Lastly, get outside and play.  Sitting in front of a TV or game box is not conducive to a healthy appetite or healthy mind.  

I hope these ideas help decrease the food challenges with your children and grands, so you can spend more time having FUN together!

Eat your veggies,

Robin

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