June 2009


In this week’s box you had a beautiful assortment of vegetables that are both born of Spring & Summer. All of those vegetables and the inadvertant subconscious digestion of a book: United States of Arugula: the Sun-Dried, Cold-Pressed, Dark-Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution’s 3 pages on the history of, well, all foodstuffs but particularly on, Pasta Primavera.   For some reason it struck a chord.

Pasta Primavera is an Italian-American creation whose popluarity can be attributed to Le Cirque restaurant in New York opened by Sirio Maccioni & original Chef Jean Vergnes in 1974. Maccioni had traveled to Tuscany and brought back with him fresh cold-pressed olive oil. The olive oil spoke to him because of the simplicity of all the small plates or tapas that he sampled and in nearly every experience the olive oil made its appearance.

Primavera means ‘springtime’ and is a strictly seasonal dish including only a medley of vegetables during that time of year. There isn’t necessarily a set group of vegetables that would be commonly found in the dish, it varies restaurant to restaurant, region to region, of this country. The beautiful thing is that such strong contrasts of Primavera from region to region, restaurant to restaurant, family to family is that it leaves room to experiment, to be simple or complex; rich or light, even a chance to start your own family tradition. While we are fully aware that this is the humid city, and it is officially no longer spring and it may be 100 degrees outside, this is an insanely easy  way to use all of those squash, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant that have made an appearance repeatedly in your veggie box.

We are your unofficial test kitchen, we strive to create simple recipes without a lot of added junk. This recipe may sound a little like work, but it is a one pot wonder (just gotta chop — a lot) which is surprisingly light, tastes of freshness, and is perfect on pasta, rice,  or on an omlette (tested that too!). Just as the recipe itself changes so do the options that go along with it. We hope you enjoy this as much we did.

Recipe: Summervera

Week 37 Farms: farmer map

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Yesterday, June 21st, was the first official day of summer! The summer solstice is the longest day of year meaning that the amount of daylight from sunrise to sunset is at its maximum for the entire year. While the weather here in the humid city has been exceptionally dry with a high heat indexes we can still enjoy delicious vine-ripened produce like okra which is in full swing. Some produce gathers momentum at high tempertures like hot peppers both cayenne and jalapenos. Corn and melons get a little sweeter in the heat but it is short lived and they won’t return until late summer or early fall for another brief appearance.

All that summer has to offer right now is almost beyond peak season and with the gas prices rising in much the same way as the temperatures why not return to a classic dish that was made popular during the depression era: Succotash.

Our Creole Succtash has a got a twist to it–corn and beans are prepared seperately, added together later in a cast-iron skillet with some Clemson spineless okra which seems only natural this time of year and is finally sauteed to perfec

tion.

While the most popular traditional succotash has lima beans we choose the fresh shelled red beans as the perfect accompaniment and the option for a meat, maybe andouille from Cochon’s Butcher, could become a twist on your Beans and Rice Monday.

The name for succotash originates from the Native American word, msikwatash or msickquatash (however you can find many different spellings depending on the tribe), roughly translated it means ‘broken into bits’ or ‘boiled corn.’

Msikwatash usually consists of what is known as the 3 sisters: beans, corn, & squash. During the Great Depression it became popular because of its simplicity and because it changes from region to region whether the Mid-West or the deep South it was what they had in quantity and what they could easily culivate. Chances are our recipes are very different from that time period instead of using olive oil they probably used lard or some rendered animal fat or what is most likely possible: some type of salted meat.

So each verison of succotash may tell a story: the settlement of the Americas, the struggle for food, and a bit of history about each region changed its recipe 

based on transition (Great Depression), celebration (settlement), and a type of Thanksgiving (the struggle). What ever the case may be it is a plate of cultural anthropology, a taste of history.

Recipe:Creole Succotash

Week 36 Farms:

The rising cost of food is unavoidable.  There is nothing quite like watching the Gardenregister ring up a grocery bill and emptying your wallet onto the conveyor belt when living on a limited budget.  Eating local fresh produce sometimes gets a bad rap given the misconception that food raised on smaller local farms must be more expensive.  In short – it’s not.  Just check out your HM&F produce box and do a price comparison with your local retailers.  We recently compared the cost of our veggie box with the same items from a national chain and we were ~36% below what you would pay at that store.  That didn’t include other costs associated with long distance shipping, environmental concerns, and public health issues that come with large corporate farms – organic or conventional.  The cost of food from corporate farms in other states or countries can artificially make the cost seem lower than it really is.   

This past Saturday we purchased two Po-boys from a local retailer on Magazine Street and compared the cost to our Veggie-box.  The Po-boys provided one lunch for two people and the veggie box provides two people with enough produce for about a week.

HM&F Veggie-box                               Po-boys_____________________

Peaches                                                        1 Large Shrimp Dressed on French

Plums                                                            1 Large Ham & Cheese Dressed on French

Blueberries

Sweet Corn

Creole Tomatoes

Long Green Eggplant

New Potatoes

Brown Jasmine Rice

Baby Bella Mushrooms

Green Bell Peppers

Cucumbers

 ________________________________________________________

Total Cost: $25.00                                Total Cost: $25.07

Summer has arrived — its official not only with the sweltering heat but also what’s in season. This past Saturday we were able to provide you with 3 fruits in the box: blueberries, peaches, & plums! This coming week you can look forward to the possibility of nectarines. Summer isn’t truly official without melons, pies, cooking outdoors, roasting corn, and sweet ice tea. So, in the celebration of summer this week’s recipe is a twist on an old classic: blueberry peach pie.

Like eggplant & citrus the peach also hails from Asia. Surprisingly is a distant relative of the almond! The peach traveled West along the silk road and was cultivated in Persia and along the Mediterranean. Its genus species name (Prunus persica) suggests that it originated in Persia but historical accounts have shown that the Persians brought the peach with them from China. The peach first appeared in America in the 17th century. Peaches were not in commercial  production until the mid-19th century.

The nectarine is a cultivar of the peach and has been referred to as a ‘peach with plum skin.’ Not much is known about the history nectarine but what is known is that it quite possibly existed long before the peach.

The mystique of the peach has its place in many cultures, in China the peach symbolizes longevity and possible immortality.  In Vietnamese culture it symbolizes peace and happiness. Its many amorous qualities may have something to do with it nutritional content which has protein, potassium, and vitamin C.

So all that nutritional goodness could be reason enough to enjoy that sweet tempting dessert: the blueberry peach pie.

Recipe:Blueberry Peach Pie

Map of Farms:

The Master Gardeners of New Orleans
Collaborative Partner at HGM&F and are doing great things on the farm.  They are available most Saturdays to answer questions about their raised vegetable beds and can help guide vegetable and ornamental plant growers to information they need to be successful.

Vintage Garden Kitchen Returns!
This week you can enjoy sample of fresh homemade soups from the ARC. All of the soups are created by Leo Tandecki, the Vintage Garden Kitchen Chef for ARC Enterprises. Leo believes in using fresh local ingredients from area farmers markets, their own on-site garden, or from local grocers. Everything is hands-on from choosing specific vegetables, harvesting, and time spent making from scratch (no shortcuts) delicious healthy soups that are sure to please.

Backyard Apothecary Natural Products.
Khulu Kevin Buckner creates and sells quality handmade products that range from healing massage oils, a miracle-working hair food leave-in conditioner to naturally safe products for infants and toddlers. Khulu began healing work and studying herbal healing in 1996 at Flynn’s Herbal College in New York City. Khulu then traveled to Zimbabwe where he studied as an apprentice with a Nyanga (traditional Healer) in the township of Nkulumane and in 1999 received certification from ZINATHA (Traditional Healers Association of Zimbabwe). After returning to his h ometown, New Orleans he started his own healing practice and product line the Backyard Apothecary.

Books to Prisoners
Books To Prisoners (BTP) is a Seattle-based, all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that sends books to prisoners in the United States.  BTP believes that books are tools for learning and opening minds to new ideas and possibilities.  By sending books to prisoners, we hope to foster a love of reading and encourage the pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement.

Founded in the early 1970s and sponsored by Left Banks Books, BTP receives 600 to 800 requests for books each month. Volunteers work two evenings a week opening letters, finding books in our collection that correspond to the request, and wrapping and mailing parcels.  Because of continuing backlog of requests, prisoners sometimes wait up to six months to receive their books.

Prisoners request a variety of books.  Most prisons accept paperback books only.  The most popular requests are dictionaries, thesauruses, African American history and fiction, Native American studies, legal material, GED materials, and languages (particularly Spanish.)  Other common requests include fiction, vocational-technical manuals, politics, anthropology, art and drawing, psychology, and health and fitness.

That’s right folks– just like the tomatoes, bananas, chili peppers, and avocados they are all berries and therefore fruits! What classifies all of them as berries? A berry can be defined as type of fruit that develops from the ovary wall of a plant flower. Pretty amazing, huh?

The history of the eggplant just like citrus has originated both India and Asia with possibly at one point over a hundred different varieties. The eggplant depending on the region is called by several different names a few of the most common are: Aubergine or brinjal; scientific name: Solanum melongena. The genus species Solanum melongena is considered to be a part of the nightshade family which also includes tomatoes and potatoes. Eggplants in particular are native to India and during medivel times traveled across the globe to the Middle East, Europe and even further down into Mediterranean and into parts of Northern Africa. In India,  and continuing all way to the Mediterranean eggplants are often eaten on a daily basis whether as an appetizer, a side, or a main dish.

One such popular dish is Imam Bayeldi or stuffed eggplant and is found in Arabic, Armenian, and Mediterranean cultures in which the recipe varies slightly according to region. The name “Imam Bayeldi” means the imam fainted. An Imam is an Islamic leader of a mosque and its community. According to history or lore the Imam fainted after  tasting such a rich dish of eggplant and olive oil. There is debate over whether the “richness” was because the superior & costly olive oil or the wonderfully flavorful dish itself. Often eggplant can tend to have bitterness which can be alleviated in a method known as ‘degorging’ where one slices the eggplant, salts the slices, and then rinses them. This ‘degorging’ method allows the eggplant to neither dry out or absorb too much oil which is often a matter of taste and/or texture preference.

However, this week’s recipe calls for none of the over the top ‘degorging’ methods but is a modified version of Imam Bayeldi that also in corporates bell pepper and mushrooms; the dish can be served either hot or cold. Traditionally, Imam Bayeldi is served cold as an appetizer in family style dinners or for this version should remain hot to be served as a hearty main course with rice and warm bread to soak the extra juices. Either way the recipe is simple and if there are any leftovers would be even better the following day. Enjoy!

Recipe: Imam Bayeldi

Map of Farms:Produce

Fiddle head ferns, wild-caught sockeye salmon and the insanely rockin’ bluegrass band known as Water Tower Bucket Boys is just a small tidbit of what was available on a recent trip that some of the staff from Hollygrove Market & Farm were able make to the PNW (Pacific Northwest).

lettuceThe Portland Farmer’s Market had several handouts about the local produce and their farms. At least 3 vendors were offering such goods as wild or foraged for items: fiddle head ferns, second break of porcini, morels, dandelion greens, and other assorted flora or fauna. Our winter season of lettuce, swiss chard, garlic, kale, cabbage, and several other items you have seen quite a lot in past Buyers’ Club boxes were just starting to come in.

We spoke with several of the farmers and everyone after a long wet cold winter were definitely ready to enjoy the extra hours of sunshine and enjoy plenty of produce. Also, most of the farmers aren’t able sell all of their produce just through markets and often have a CSA as well in order pay the bills. The average cost of an 18 week CSA in both Portland, Olympia, and Seattle was anywhere between $450 to $550–or $25 week. All CSA’s offered payment plans and some gave steep discounts for purchasing a share (if paid in full) a month before the start of distribution or if you were in a low income bracket (great options for both students & seniors). Most offered delivery if you lived within a certain mile radius of the farm and some also gave reasons as to why it isn’t in their best interest to distribute outside of pick-up (usually at the market) or delivery times. One, the most obvious issues is time — farmers are very busy people especially in PNW with such a short growing seasons. The other reason is (environmental) economy, gas prices are costly with extra taxes and the drive alone just to the markets is enough to cause a dent in the bottom line.

fiddle heads fernsThe environmental economy factoid that someone shared with me is that for every mile you drive your car (even some hybrids) you produce 1 pound of garbage. I thought about how weird it might be, that while driving down the road then glance up into your rear-view mirror to see a one small pound bag of trash fly out of the back of your car every mile. Furthermore, what about shopping for all the other goods you need in your life, the necessities: shampoo, soap, detergent, and so on? How many pounds of trash are you pushing around in your shopping cart when you’re making groceries? Nobody knows yet, per se, because of the logistics involved in manufacturing. Such as manufacturing the item’s packaging whether or not it is made by the same company or if its shipped. How and where the item is produced is also important in measuring environmental economic impact. The warehouses that have contracts with brands that aren’t always in the same state or maybe even the in the same region. We could keep going but I believe you get the point. So, “what’s the answer?” you’re thinking. The answer can be a simple as, moderation, using everything to its fullest extent (not just with food but clothing, computers, etc) walk or ride a bike instead of drive.

Hollygrove Market & Farm is committed to purchasing produce within a 500 or less mile radius and works with our farmers to be more sustainable both economically and environmentally.

One more thing I would like to share is the interesting points of Thurston County’s Direct Farm Sales Map (Olympia, WA)knife skills

Economic Sustainability: farms are in itegral part of a thriving local ecomony. A dollar spent at a local farm or farmer’s market will circulate in the community many times over.

Fresh & Nutritious Whole Food: The faster food goes from farm to table, the longer it lasts, has more nutrients (enyzmes and other vitamins are lost the longer it is removed from the vine), and the better it tastes!

Diversity of Choice: When choosing among many farms and their products they vary in their agricultural practices, the items they produce, and how they treat the people who work for them. When you buy local, you decide where to spend your money and your own standards for the products you buy.

Local Control: The community has tremendous power over the environmental, social, and economic standards of local agriculture because the farmers directly rely on us for their support. We can also stop by and talk to the producer of your food choices face to face. By buying local, we can take back control of our food supply from increasingly consolidated corporations that are responsible almost solely to their shareholders.

Recipe:  Peach Cucumber Salsa

Map of Farms:farmer map