Category Archives: Recipes

Roasted veggies up close

Roasting Radishes: the best way to win over a radish hater

Radishes and Turnips
Some of the ingredients: salad turnips and chopped radishes.

This is the raddest radish recipe. Or should we call it a technique? Either way, roasting radishes is a fresh take on these spicy beauties.

Flavor sweetens: Roasting the radish takes some of the spice out of the radish, and some of the flavor that many radish haters hate fades. They become a little sweeter and don’t bite back as much.

Super quick: Roasting radishes takes maybe 10 – 15 minutes. So quick!

Beautiful: Mix these in with any of your favorites (last night I chose cauliflower, carrots, and salad turnips) and they will make your dish look fabulous.

The Recipe: Roasted Radishes

Roasted veggies
Just out of the oven! Gave them lots of room to crisp and cook quickly.

Ingredients:

1 bunch radishes (or more!)

Mix of other veggies, enough to fill two baking sheets (that way you have leftovers). I used 1 head of cauliflower, 5 carrots, and a bunch of salad turnips

2 tablespoons fat of your choice, I used duck fat. Make sure it is something that will cook at high heat (coconut oil, animal fat, BUTTER)

How to:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop your vegetables to equal sizes, about 1 – 2 inch chunks. Toss them together with melted oil, salt and pepper. Feel free to add in some spices or herbs or even a bit of lemon.

I roasted my veggies for around 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. I added the radishes and turnips in after the rest had been roasting for about 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

greens

Love Your Greens & Your Farmer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! When many greens are growing, hearts are glowing (with health and wellness that comes with eating your greens!) and loved ones are near. I know making food certainly brings more people to the table. Everyone eats, after all.

One of those people who you will be getting to know and love over the coming months is your farmer. Here at Garden City Harvest we don’t deliver your CSA for one very good reason. We want people to come to the farm, we want to see you, we want your kids to come see where their carrots and cukes are grown. We want to cultivate community in and between our shareholders. We really like you. Farming is better when you are around (and yes, I totally stole that line from Annie of the Pea Green Boat).

Farmer Greg
Photo by Erika Peterman

That said, I wanted to talk a little about Greg, who is the head farmer at River Road Farm. If you ask Greg to describe himself in 3 words, he’ll tell you: committed, organized, hardworking. He might roll his eyes at you, cause really, how can you boil someone down to 4 words?

He told me, “I try to stick with the simple things. Otherwise, you lose track of the important things.” For Greg, the simple things are food, wild places, and basketball.

When he was growing up, it was mostly him, his mom, and his brother. They moved around quite a bit, but the place Greg identifies with the most was Maryland. That’s where his grandparents lived, where he learned to fish and to hunt. He’s had a diversity of experiences throughout his life. Early in life, he joined the Air Force and was stationed in Germany. Later, he got a degree in philosophy. He started working for Garden City Harvest in 1997, and learned the art of farming as the organization grew. He has used his strong commitment and wondering mind to guide him in his life choices, “My studies in philosophy set me up especially for a kind of concentrated wondering.”

He has spent a great deal of time in the wild places of Montana. He worked for the Great Bear Foundation, alongside his work in the farm fields. I’ve seen him off to gather dandelion greens and other wild edibles for a Great Bear feast from the forest. He dreams of bringing more wild to the farm in the form of native plants, better animal and insect habitat and the like.

Greg fixes tool
Photo by Erika Peterman

He keeps stacks of wood for animals and insects to live in, he gets to know the many spiders on the farm. He’s planning to put a osprey nesting platform up at the farm in the coming year.

He has worked with the Poverello Center since he started with River Road, and grows about 5,000 annually for their soup kitchen. He also helps the chef at the Poverello understand how to use all of this food. I’ve always loved a story he told me about one of the first seasons he grew food for the Poverello. It was the fall, and Greg dropped off a load of winter squash. When he returned the next week, there was all the beautiful squash decorating the tables. Greg suggested that the squash was great decoration, but that the chef might want to cook with it, too. And they made a simple squash soup. Soon after, the soup became a staple on the fall menu. It takes more than growing the food to get it on the table. It is the simple things that make translating that squash into soup that fills your belly. The human connection.

In that spirit, I want to share some greens recipes with you. For this is a time to cherish, rather than feel overwhelmed. Also, in the spirit of knowing your farmer, ask yours what he or she likes to do with the greens. Our farmers have inspired me to try something knew so very many times.

In the coming weeks, greens are the thing. And take heart, they cook down to almost nothing. They are pretty interchangeable. And they are great for breakfast with eggs, lunch with toppings, and dinner as a side or a cooked bed for whatever else you are making. Here’s a great recipe for greens from a past blog :

Welcome, and welcome back! See you next week.

 

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Broth: not just for the tummy troubles

It is the dead of winter. There’s no more figgy pudding, the stored vegetable stores are starting to run low, and the light is still in short supply. I got fed up with my snow boots the last week and braved the snow in clogs. Winter be damned! Somehow, this was my rebellion against the endless layers and tense muscles that old man winter demands.

All I got was wet feet.

It’s times like this that require a little broth. There are many benefits to a cup of bone broth, including some protein,  gelatin, and glycine (the last two are good for your gut!). It’s a great thing to drink daily. Even if you don’t care a fig about the nutritional benefits, bone broth is a building block for so many recipes, that having it on hand is so handy. Buying it is expensive, and it is easy and quick to make at home. Plus, it saves you some bones! It will certainly make your day a little warmer, and that’s really saying something.

The difference between stock, broth and bone broth:

Broth — Broth cooks 45 minutes to two hours and usually uses meat, and perhaps some bones. The flavor is light, and it is generally not drunk on its own but instead used as a building block.

Stock — Stock and bone broth are similar in their ingredient lists, but differ greatly in the time they are cooked. They both always include bones, according to the definition, however a stock is typically cooked three to four hours and bone broth typically 12 – 24 hours. A note on vegetable stock: essentially, vegetable stock and vegetable broth are the same. The difference is how you use them in the end. (Will it be an ingredient of a larger dish? Stock. Will it be drunk on its own? Broth. )

Bone broth — Bone broth is always cooked with bones, and cooked for a long time (12 – 24+ hours). Some add vegetables, some do not.

Where to get bones:

Direct from the farmer (Lifeline Farm, Jamie’s Naturally Raised Grass Finished Beef, Oxbow Cattle Company, Manix Family Grass Finished Beef. . . Check out AERO’s Abundant Montana directory) — try the winter and summer farmers’ markets in Missoula, too. You can get a large amount and freeze them. You’ll need around 2 lbs of bones per 64 oz batch.

At a local natural food store –if you don’t see them on display, ask the meat department if they have any soup bones you could purchase. They’re usually very cost-effective.

You can keep a bone bag in the freezer, and put your chicken carcasses, ham hocks and other pork bones, and beef bones in there until you are ready to make some stock. A mixture of bones gives a wider flavor profile.

Make it without wasting all those veggies!

You can make bone broth without any vegetables (well, you always use the garlic). However, if you want the flavor vegetables offer, just start collecting your vegetable scraps. I’ve recently started keeping a bag in my freezer for my vegetable scraps. Any time I prepare a meal, I put the discarded ends and peelings, etc. in the bag for my next broth making venture.

Vegetables to keep — the basic aromatics are what I typically use (carrots, onions, celery) — they give a good base to work from. However, once I started staving scraps, root vegetables, stalks, leaves, tops, ends, peelings. Kale and chard stems, bell pepper cores, green beans/string beans, mushroom stems, herb stems. I put the garlic and onion skins in, though I’ve read that onions skins, along with beets, will turn your broth dark brown, so it’s more of a cosmetic thing. If you have some veggies that are about to turn (but haven’t yet) or are a bit dehydrated, this is a great use for them!

Vegetables to send packing — cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, (all from the brassica family, which has a certain odor you don’t want in your stock/broth), turnips and rutabagas (those are two roots to avoid). And of course, rotten spots and moldy veggies are also not a good idea.

How to make it

I prefer to make bone broth in my slow cooker. It is an Instant Pot so it can hold up to 64 oz, which is key for this recipe. If you are in the market, I can’t say enough about this one, it’s made of safe, stainless steel, it’s big, and can pressure cook, make yogurt, and rice. Anyway.

This makes 4 full quart sized mason jars.

Mason Jars

I got the bones (I used beef bones this time) and vegetables scraps out of the freezer, and dumped them in.

my ingredients

On top, I poured the apple cider vinegar and salt. I added a whole head of garlic, just smashing each clove between my knife and the cutting board before adding. I poured water to the max fill line in the slow cooker.

bone broth ready to boil

 

After that, all I had to do was stick the lid on, and put it on high until it came to a boil. Then, I turned it to low, and cooked it for 12 hours.

Here’s the beautiful elixir:

IMG_5077

Other notes:

set your slow cooker for 12 hours

Cooking time: Some say the vegetables will become bitter if you cook them longer than 12 hours. The longer you cook the broth, however, the better for you it gets. I often cook it for 24 hours without a problem, but if you are concerned about bitter broth, just scoop out the vegetables at the 12 hour mark and keep on cooking. Or skip the vegetables and just use water, vinegar, bones, salt and garlic (that doesn’t get bitter). You can also check doneness by taste and smell. This batch tasted perfect at 12 hours, so I didn’t have to worry. You know you’ve gotten all the nutrients out of the bones when they are starting to crumble at the edges.

Stovetop or oven: You can also do this on the stove top or in the oven. You want to bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat so that it is simmering in such a way that a tiny bubble trickles up every few seconds. Same cooking time (12 – 24 hours). For the oven, bring to a boil on the stove, then place in a 200 degree oven.

Storage: You can keep it in the fridge for 4-5 days, then it’s time to freeze. I like to either freeze in an ice cube tray or small baggies. Remember to label the baggies so you know how many cups are enclosed, and when you made it.

Roasting the bones for flavor: This is a great idea if you have time and want to bring out a richness in the bone broth, but easily skipped for simplicity. Coat the bones in a high heat oil (I usually use a solid fat like lard, bacon grease, or duck fat) and distribute them in a roasting pan. Roast at 400 degrees for around an hour.

To drink on its own: add your favorite herbs (fresh or dried), or just a little garlic and salt.

Recipe

This recipe is designed to make 64 oz of broth. Make sure your soup pot or slow cooker has the capacity. 

Ingredients:
  • Whole head of garlic, broken apart and each clove smashed (leave skin on)
  • 1.5 – 2 lbs stock bones (can use chicken, beef, or pork bones)
  • Vegetable scraps (optional)
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Water
How to:

Combine the bones, vegetable scraps, and bay leaf. Pour the salt and apple cider vinegar over the top. Add water until you reach the max fill line in your slow cooker or soup pot.

Bring the water to a boil, then cook it for 12 – 24 hours. The longer the better. Remove or skip the vegetable scraps if you cook it longer than 12 hours. Let cool and refrigerate or freeze.

If this bone broth doesn’t do it for you, then try this quick video. There are places in Alaska where they only get minutes or an hour of sunlight some parts of the year. And start garden dreaming: sign up for a community garden plot or CSA share!

 

 

Home Made Gifts: Holiday Hot Cocoa

Hot cocoa
Hot cocoa. Photo by Slice of Chic.

During the holiday season, I’m always grateful to receive homemade gifts. The hot cocoa mix recipe listed below is a perfect family activity and makes a tasty gift for friends and neighbors. Of course, it’s also perfect for placing in your own cupboard and enjoying during Missoula’s winter!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup powdered milk
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions:

Combine ¼ cup of the powdered milk with the cornstarch and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Pour into a pint jar or into two half pint jars. Pour sugar into the jar (or jars if making two). Combine the remaining ¼ cup of powdered milk and the cinnamon. Pour into the jar or jars. Add ½ cup of chocolate chips to the top of two jars or the entire cup if using one pint jar.

That’s all! This recipe doubles and triples very easily and is perfect for children to make as gifts.

To Serve: Pour contents of jar into a bowl and mix. When evenly blended, add back into jar. For a single serving, place 4 Tablespoons cocoa mix and 1 cup milk or water in a small pan. Stovetop: Heat milk and mix on medium until the chocolate chips melt, stirring occasionally. Whisk for 30 seconds or until smooth, pour into a cup and serve with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Mix and milk can be heated in a microwave. Place cup on a plate in case of the milk/water boils over. Heat for a minute and stir. Heat for another minute or two if needed, whisk and serve.

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Make Pumpkin Rolls for Thanksgiving

5350998200_ea6b3b34b7_o Eating freshly baked bread is one of life’s joys. When my daughters moved away, my recipe for Pumpkin Rolls was one of the few they requested from me. The recipe below makes delicious dinner rolls and is a great addition to your Thanksgiving table. It’s also a wonderful way to get non-squash/pumpkin lovers to eat the nutritious vegetable.

Ingredients:

1 scant tablespoon yeast (or 1 package yeast)

1/4 cup warm water

2/3 cup milk (whole, 2%, skim, or soy)

1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin or winter squash (If using a small commercial can of pumpkin, buy plain pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling. Use the entire can even though it’ll be a little more than a cup).

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter or margarine (butter tastes better!)

2 cups whole wheat flout

2-3 cups unbleached white flour

Oven temperature: 400 degrees

Makes 12 dinner rolls, 1 large loaf, or 2 small loaves

Directions:

Mix yeast, warm water, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar in a large bowl. Set aside for 10-20 minutes so the yeast can “proof.” The yeast mixture will look like a foamy, tan mass when it’s ready.

While the yeast is “proofing,” place the milk and butter in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until the butter has melted (or microwave). Once the butter has melted, cool slightly (you should be able to touch the milk and butter mixture with a finger and it should be warm, but not hot) and add to the yeast. Add the cooked pumpkin or squash, the brown sugar, and salt to the yeast and milk, then stir until blended.

Add the 2 cups whole wheat flour, and stir. The mixture should be getting thick. Now add the unbleached, white flour one cup at a time – the dough should get so thick you’ll eventually need to give up the spoon and will have to knead, by hand, the rest of the flour in. Depending on the flour, you might not use it all or you may need a few more tablespoons to get firm dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding additional flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. As you knead, you’ll feel the dough taking on an “elastic” quality – this is the gluten strands developing. I like to knead yeast breads in the bowl I’ve mixed them in – it contains the flour mess and I don’t have to clean up the countertop or table afterwards.cooking

Once kneaded, round the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl that is at least twice as big as the dough. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise. After an hour, punch the dough down, re-round into a ball, and let rise again for 40 minutes or so. Once it’s grown to about double in size again, push down, knead gently for a minute or so, and then set aside for five minutes so the dough can “rest.” Letting the dough rest allows the gluten to relax and makes shaping rolls or loaves easier.

At this stage, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Butter or oil your baking pans. I suggest a 9×11 cake pan for rolls, one large loaf pan, or two small loaf pans. This bread also makes a lovely, free-form round loaf that can be cooked on a cookie sheet.

The bread dough is now ready to shape into a dozen rolls, 1 large loaf, or 2 small loaves.  After shaping the dough and placing it in a pan, cover and let rise 30 – 40 minutes. The shaped dough should be about doubled in size; if your kitchen is warm, it may rise faster than the 30 minutes. When finished rising, place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. You can check for “doneness” by tapping on the top of the bread – if it gives off a “hollow” sound, it’s ready.

Take the rolls or loaves out of the pans and cool on a rack; let them cool before cutting. It’s very tempting to eat the bread as soon as it comes out of the oven but, if the bread’s still hot, it won’t slice well.

Note:  This recipe doubles or triples easily. Also, once baked, the rolls freeze well for later use.

bread

moondanceweb

So Long & Minestrone Soup

static1-squarespaceThis week we’re featuring special artwork from Northwest artist, Phoebe Wahl.  Phoebe is an artist whose work focuses on themes of comfort, nostalgia and intimacy with nature and one another. She grew up unschooled in Washington state, and credits her ‘free range’ childhood in the Northwest for much of her inspiration and work ethics. Phoebe graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 2013 with a BFA in Illustration, and currently lives in Bellingham, Washington.  Her first children’s book Sonya’s Chickens (Tundra) was the recipient of the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for New Illustrator, as well as a Kirkus star, and was listed by School Library Journal, Kirkus and HuffPost Books as being one of the Best Children’s Books of 2015. Phoebe is represented by Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary


While sitting here in an effort to write our closing blog for the season, it is this quote that sticks:

how lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,”

moondanceweb
Moon Dance. Watercolor, collage, colored pencil. Phoebe Wahl.

…perfectly articulated by the original and ever so wise, Winnie the Pooh. We’ve now said goodbye to our shared gardens; they’ve been tended to, cared for, and put to sleep for the cold winter to come.

Cider Pressing. For October in the 2015 Taproot Magazine wall calendar. Watercolor, collage, colored pencil. Phoebe Wahl.

How lucky are we that we have something to miss and reminiscence through the snow. We say goodbye to our gardens, to these places that we tend, and to the neighbors we tend with, with the luxury in knowing that we will be seeing it all again come spring.

Preserve. For August in the 2016 Taproot Magazine wall calendar. Watercolor, collage, colored pencil.

In the meantime, we hope you continue to enjoy your garden goods through the winter.

**So here is a winter recipe and a few last quotes to last you the winter through:

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination. ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. ~Audrey Hepburn


Community Gardens Minestrone Soup

Last week we celebrated the hard work and devotion that our volunteer garden Leadership Committees put forth with a dinner party. Here is a recipe from the event: Community Gardens Minestrone Soup to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This is a go-to for me; it doesn’t take long, and usually doesn’t require a trip to the grocery store. You can be creative with what ingredients you have on hand.

Ingredients:

Veggies – This is more of a “kitchen sink” soup, so use what you like or what you got! I’ve found that anything from Brussels sprouts to kale to spinach to beets to peppers all tastes good and blends well. If you are worried about cooking times check out the Kitchn’s guide to making soup with almost any vegetable.

That said, pretty mandatory veggies for base –

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

Three cups diced tomatoes, canned or fresh (no need to de-seed fresh tomatoes)

2 large carrots, chopped

2 large or 3 medium potatoes, chopped

2-3 cans of beans, whichever you’d prefer (I generally use black, great northern, or whatever is in my pantry)

Broth –

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 32 oz. container of vegetable broth + water to dilute

1 – 3 tablespoons of vinegar – I prefer red wine vinegar, but rice vinegar works well too

A splash of red cooking wine

Spices –

I spice to taste; start with a dash or two, add more as you go

Salt

Pepper

Dried thyme

Dried oregano

Dried basil

A hint of cayenne

FRESH curly parsley – a large handful, chopped. You can be generous with this; I usually use the entirety of one produce bunch.

Grains –  

1 bag of whichever noodle you like, I usually use macaroni, shell, or whatever is in my pantry so long as its bite-size, i.e., not spaghetti, angel hair, etc. Gluten free are fine too.

Directions:

Cook pasta in separate pot. Once pasta is cooked, drain and run under cold water until it is no longer steaming and set aside.

On medium-high heat sauté onions in olive oil until slightly tender in large stockpot. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute or until fragrant. Once sautéed, add carrots, potatoes and any other starchy or hardy veggie that needs time to cook. Once all veggies are tender, turn heat to medium and add tomatoes and beans and stir. Add all dried spices plus salt and pepper and bring mixture to a soft boil while stirring. Add liquid broth ingredients on medium heat; bring mixture to a soft boil once again.  This is your time to add spices and liquids to your taste. If it’s bland, add a pinch of salt, more herbs you desire, and a teaspoon or two of vinegar and wine. If it’s too salty or strong, dilute with a cup of water. Repeat this process as necessary. *The beauty of this soup is that it is very forgiving. Once you’ve seasoned to taste, bring soup to a low simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in pasta and parsley five minutes before serving.

Optional garnishes-

A dollop of plain yogurt with a hint of fresh parsley sprinkled on top

A sprinkle of grated parmesan or asiago cheese

Makes 8 – 10 quarts

Thanks all and see you next season!


**All quotes from “Quotations: Gardening, Farming, Dirt, Soil.” The Quote Garden. Last modified July 16, 2016. Accessed November 1, 2016. http://www.quotegarden.com/gardens.html.

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Apples from Heaven

One of the joys of fall cooking is the abundance of apples. Local apples abound in Missoula for the next month or two:  Macintosh, Transparents, Ruby Reds, Sweet Sixteens, Pink Ladys, and Honey Crisp to name a few. Apples, of course, are well suited for sauce, cider, and pie. One of my favorite apple dishes is the tart recipe below. Simple and tasty, the tart makes a wonderful finish to any autumn dinner or the perfect breakfast treat.

Apple Tart

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients for crust:

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup butter

1 egg, beaten

Ingredients for apple filling:

2 lbs (4-5 larges) apples – any variety will do and a mix of varieties works well

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons sugar

½ cup raisins, dried cherries, or dried cranberries

2 tablespoons corn syrup

2 tablespoons butter, chilled and diced

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter. Once the flour and butter resembles fine crumbs, add the beaten egg. Mix only until the dough begins to stick together. If the dough is too dry, add drops of water until it holds together. Place in a sheet of wax paper, press together lightly, and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Once the dough has chilled, remove from the wax paper and use your hands to press into a 9-inch tart or pie pan.crust

While the tart crust dough is chilling, make the apple filling. Quarter and core the apples. You may leave the peel on the apples. Coarsely grate the apples then mix with the cinnamon, sugar, and dried fruit.ingredients-1

Place in the tart shell and smooth out.fill

pitter-patterSpoon the corn syrup over the filling, and then dot the filling with the diced butter.prebake

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and eat warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 6 – 8.done-tartplated-1

kayajudanelson-4

Tales of Pigweed

This week Kaya Juda Nelson writes about her work as an apprentice at Garden City Harvest’s Youth Farm, run in partnership with Youth Homes. After spending her freshman year at Boston University, a semester of her sophomore year in South America, and a semester of her senior year campaigning with a climate action organization in Denver, Kaya graduated from the University of Montana with high honors in Environmental Studies and a minor in Climate Change Studies. For the past year and a half, Kaya has also been part of a bluegrass band, Local Yokel, in which she plays the fiddle, banjo, writes, and sings. Here’s Kaya: 

We choose to farm because it connects us with our environment and offers a relationship to the cycles of the seasons. Farming feels great as we work our bodies and work the earth under the sun, in the rain, feeling the wind against our faces.  But even more than the connection to place and weather, this season working at the Youth Farm has affirmed my favorite relationship brought about by farming: the relationship with food.

After a morning of weeding and thinning the carrots or harvesting salad mix (a sometimes tedious and time-consuming task), a trio of young adults from various Missoula youth homes and an adult staff member (often myself) break to make the lunch for our 10-20 person crew.

We learn how to properly cook rice and lentils, what you can do with the abundance of radishes, how delicious raw kohlrabi can be, and the fact that cucumbers should never, ever, ever, under any circumstance be cooked. The first days we cook lunch I hear:

“I hate veggies”

“there’s no meat?!?”

“are we seriously eating this for lunch?”

By the end of the first meal, we have converted most of the youth into veggie lovers. I remember getting excited about having agency in the food I ate when I was in high school. Now, watching that agency develop in these adolescent faces as we make lunches each day, I relive it myself. Carrots and onions are chopped with confidence and chard is discovered to shrink when you cook it and sometimes the stir fries are too salty and sometimes the beets are horribly crunchy but the food education is palpable.

Zayne arranging CSA boxesAs you all may have read in Genevieve’s post, Zayne, one of our youth employees tells the story of discovering kale at a mobile market stand while living at the Council Groves apartments. He proudly declares himself as the kale kid, and always asks for an extra bunch to take back to the Tom Roy youth home where he lives, located adjacent to the farm. When his mother or grandmother is in town for a visit, he begs to take them a bouquet of the hearty leafy green. I see part of this as a simple fact that kale is delicious and has become nutritionally notorious both in the local and the mainstream food world, but you can also see Zayne’s pride in his cultivation of his favorite crop and his desire to share a tangible fruit of his labor.

The CSA is the other venue in which the Youth Farm employees have a chance to shine and pass along their thoughts and opinions on produce to the roughly 60 CSA members that come to collect their share each week. For a few weeks in late June, we offered pigweed in our CSA share. Yes, this is a weed that we harvest for our customers. We constantly battle pigweed as it grows rampant through the farm. When we learned from a visting Greek that it is delicious cooked in olive oil and lemon, we made lemons out of lemonade and added it to our CSA offerings.

Pigweed is amazingAs Zayne greeted the CSA customers that week with a giant box of pigweed, he spun the story of the Greek farmer into a personal tale of meeting this man and together sharing the delights of pigweed. This pitch was mostly fabricated, but Zayne encouraged our CSA customers to try this leafy weed with an unappetizing name in such a spirited and hilarious way, it didn’t matter whether it was factual. It was about a connection with this crop and with the CSA members.

We work with groups of young adults that have come from wide-ranging and diverse backgrounds, but who are all living in the Missoula Youth Homes. These teenagers are navigating the difficulties of adolescence, while living in homes that are not their own, and while I wish I could say that the farm provides a fairy tale solution, but I can’t. But when the rusty steel triangle that serves as a lunch bell is rung and the giant cast-iron pan of bok-choy is brought to the table, it is evident that change and connection are happening in ways I’m not always aware of, and the effort, joy, and learning put into the meals we share out here in the sun and rain and wind provides a sense of ownership and accomplishment for the employees of the Youth Farm.

Zayne and the Greek Farmer’s Pigweed

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb fresh pigweed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 T olive oil  salt to taste

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a pan and add pigweed (whole, not chopped).  Add lemon juice and stir until all the pigweed is covered with oil and lemon juice. Cover the pigweed until it has wilted slightly, then uncover and cook off any liquid that has accumulated. Add salt to taste. Enjoy!

tomatoes

Tomato Pie: your savory savior for a quick fresh meal

Claire Vergobbi Clare Vergobbi is one of our apprentices this season, working at River Road Neighborhood Farm for the summer. She is an essential part of what we do there, each day, and in turn, we are teaching her many skills for her future. Simultaneously, she is studying at the University of Montana. Thanks to Missoula Federal Credit Union for making two of our apprenticeships possible. Here’s Clare on tomato pie:

There’s nothing quite like hand feeding a chicken, pulling up a handful of carrots you seeded, weeded, and hand-watered for two months, or watching the sun set over mountains while the farm is full of families picking up their vegetables for the week.

These are the simple lessons good soil, clean water, hard work, and fresh food can teach. I’ve spent the last two summers as an apprentice at River Road Neighborhood Farm, one of Garden City Harvest’s four farms, where I’ve been learning by doing. River Road grows food for over 80 households who are members of the farm, and helps stock the kitchen at the Poverello with food each week of the season.

That brings me to tomato season. At long last, it arrived—albeit about a month later than usual and much lighter than the motherlode that blessed gardens and farms around Missoula last year.

That brings me to tomato season.  At long last, it’s here—albeit a month later than usual and much lighter than the motherlode that blessed gardens and farms around Missoula last year.  I spent most of the winter and spring eating the tomato soup, sauce, salsa, and frozen fruits I preserved last fall, and most of the summer waiting for tomatoes to come back into season. Desperate for tomatoes, I  started making a list of everything I wanted to make out of them this year at the first hint of red on the vines at the beginning of August.

tomato

I work as an apprentice at River Road Neighborhood Farm. Working alongside Greg Price and

Unfortunately, it’s hard to outsmart the whims of nature and August and September have been colder and rainier than anyone would have liked—less than ideal weather for tomatoes.  Harvests of tomatoes, peppers, and other hot weather crops have been exercises in frustration at River Road for the past few months. However, harvests are finally topping out above 100 pounds and I have faith that we’ll all end up with enough tomatoes to have more than enough for preservation. The fleeting inconsistencies of this season reminded me that the best tomatoes are those enjoyed fresh off the vine, standing in the field with juice running down my fingers or starring as a primary flavor in a light dish.

sliced heirloomOne of the dishes on my tomato wish list this year is tomato pie, a recipe I came across in a few southern cooking websites last winter.  The version I made was also heavily inspired by an onion pie that my lovely coworker Samantha brought to work one day.  Tomato pie is an amazing way to showcase the deep flavors and beautiful colors of heirloom tomatoes—my favorites for this dish were Cherokee Purples and Golden Kings, but any large heirloom would be a good choice.  I opted for a slightly healthier version (minus the sour cream and mayonnaise) than the original recipes I came across; a combination of the onion pie recipe and a fantastic recipe for heirloom tomato pie I found on Dig This Chick, a local Missoula blog.

With a sunny week ahead of us, there’s still a chance to take advantage of the fresh tomatoes ripening in your gardens and on our farms.  Grab a bunch of romas for your soups and sauces and a few lumpy, beautiful heirlooms for this pie.

Heirloom Tomato Pie   tomato pie

Need:

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3-4 sliced heirloom tomatoes
  • 4 cups shredded cheese—I liked parmesan, white cheddar, and gouda
  • 1 cup milk or plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced or sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • ¼ cup diced fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dried basil)
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, take a cup or so of breadcrumbs and mix with 3 tablespoons of melted butter, then press mixture firmly around the pie pan.

Caramelize onions and garlic.

Mix milk/yogurt, egg, cheese, garlic, onions, and herbs.  Pour mixture into pie crust.   Layer tomato slices to fill up remainder of pie pan, sprinkling with salt and pepper to taste as you go.

Bake for about an hour, or until the cheesy stuff is nice and bubbly and the tomatoes are juicy and squishy, but not dehydrated or burned.

When it comes out of the oven, it will still be pretty watery.  Let it sit for an hour at room temperature so it can set up, but it’ll probably taste just as good if you can’t wait that long.

Throw some extra fresh basil on top before eating to make it extra tasty.

Enjoy the remainder of glorious tomato season.  Who knows? If the frost holds off maybe we’ll have a fire sale after all.

 

ingredients

Savory Bread Pudding for Dinner

Savory bread pudding is a special occasion dish I use for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The prep is time-consuming and the cooking time a tad long, 90 minutes, but the results are worth the effort. This is a dish my children ask for again and again. It’s also a great centerpiece to a brunch buffet for friends and family.

I typically use fresh garden vegetables, but, in the winter, frozen vegetables work fine too. Be sure to thaw and drain frozen veggies before using. Be creative and combine meats and vegetables you like. The recipe is forgiving as long as you don’t add too much liquid to the ingredients.

Savory Bread Pudding

Ingredients and instructions:

1 loaf crusty French bread (baguette), cubed

12 eggs

2 cups milk (Skim, 2%, Whole, or even Soy Milk will work)

Beat the eggs and milk together. Set aside.

The three ingredients above are essential. The list below can vary and I’ve offered suggestions.

1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled into small bits (or ham, chopped small or other sausage)

1 medium onion, chopped and cooked (cook with the meat)

4 cloves garlic, chopped fine and cooked with the meat and onion

1 bunch of Swiss Chard (or kale, or collard greens, or 3-4 cups of spinach) roughly chopped. If using kale or collard greens, remove the stems. With the Swiss chard, you can include the stems. Thinly slice the Swiss chard stem that extends below the leaf.

1 bunch asparagus, chopped (or 2 cups chopped fresh green beans)

1 zucchini (small to medium, the size usually in stores) seeded and chopped

Optional:  1-2 cups sliced Japanese eggplants, salted, rinsed, and drained

2 cups grated cheese (Swiss, cheddar, parmesan, or whatever you have on-hand)

Place Swiss chard, asparagus, and zucchini (and eggplant if using) in a large bowl and microwave for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften but are not cooked all the way through.chard

1 cup fresh mixed herbs: sage, basil, dill, marjoram, oregano (or whatever you can find). Mince herbs together. Dill and sage will be strong flavors so only use a little of each. If you can’t find fresh herbs, just add 1 tablespoon of Italian herb mix or even a tablespoon of Mrs. Dash no-salt spice mix.ingredients

Add the minced herbs and 1 cup of the grated cheese to the microwaved vegetables and stir.ingredients-2

Mix vegetables, cheese and herbs with the meat and onions and the cubed bread and put in a large, buttered, baking dish (a lasagna pan is perfect). Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread mixture. The ingredients should be just covered by the eggs and milk. You may need to add more or even not use all the eggs and milk you mixed up.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and thirty minutes. Set your timer for 60 minutes. When the timer goes off, add the remaining 1 cup of cheese to the top of the pudding. Cook for another thirty minutes. The pudding is done when a knife stuck in the center comes out “clean” (meaning no wet egg/milk on the knife when you remove it). Depending on the size of your pan, the pudding may take longer to cook. If you don’t have a lasagna or a 9×12 cake pan, you can split the pudding into several smaller pans. If you bake in smaller pans or ramekins, your cooking time will decrease. The cooked pudding freezes and reheats well.finished-dishThis is a bountiful recipe that easily feeds 6 to 8 people.plated