Ode to Tomatoes

Ode to Tomatoes
by Pablo Neruda

The street
filled with tomatoes
midday,
summer,
light is
halved
like
a
tomato,
its juice
runs
through the streets.
In December,
unabated,
the tomato
invades
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
takes
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
sinks
into living flesh,
red
viscera,
a cool
sun,
profound,
inexhaustible,
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
we
pour
oil,
essential
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
pepper
adds
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
parsley
hoists
its flag,
potatoes
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
knocks
at the door,
it’s time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth,
recurrent
and fertile
star,
displays
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.

8/5/14, share #10

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Posted in Weekly Share

Summer crops and garlic harvest

This week’s harvest screams summer… watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers and yes, the tomatoes are finally here!

7/29/14, share #9

Out on the farm, the acre of garlic is being harvested. We started last week, and will be finished today. Keep an eye on the Zone 7 website for their final video in their garlic series, filmed at our farm.

This is one of Tom and my favorite crops to grow. Planted last October, the garlic has a long journey to harvest.

After it is pulled from the field, (a tractor bar loosens under the garlic beds and then we pull each one by hand) it is then bundled and strung from the rafters in the Rosenberger’s beautiful barn.

The next big task on the farm is to harvest all the storage onions. You’ve been enjoying the sweet white onions pulled fresh from the ground. The storage onions are pulled and dried on racks to be used well into the winter.

Farming is pretty hard work, that’s no doubt. This week was a particularly fun share to harvest (heavy, but fun!)- seeing the mountains of beautiful corn and melons was awesome. However, one of the more rewarding parts of our job is to see the fruits of our labor end up in appreciative hands, whether leaving in bags at the farm market stands, or headng home in your baskets from the farm. I love seeing all your smiling faces each week enjoying the CSA shares, especially the pick-your-own!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Posted in On The Farm

Field Tomatoes are coming, Cantaloupes are here!

Another strange summer in Pennsylvania… It may feel warm during the day but these cool nights that are such wonderful sleeping weather are keeping our tomatoes from ripening, and testing our farmer patience. Loaded with green fruit, we are finally seeing the first blush of red on the plants.

It may still be a week or two until we see the full avalanche of ripe fruit. This is definitely a later harvest than usual- caused by both the current weather and the late winter that pushed the spring planting back a few weeks. Hopefully the first frost of the fall will be later than usual as well!

The conveyor belt worked overtime this week as we put it to use to harvest the sweet corn and cantaloupes. This back-saving harvest tool is a favorite of the whole crew, used almost every other day in the cucumbers and summer squash. We harvest right onto the belt which funnels the crops directly onto a wagon to be packed.

The cantaloupes are a success story this season. We have tinkered with variety and planting methods in hopes of getting a great harvest- and here it is!

The sweet corn, as we have written about in the past, is always a challenge to grow organically. We mainly battle the corn worms and the black birds. Each year we hang dozens of cards on the corn tassels which contain thousands of beneficial wasps. 

Farmer Tom hangs the cards containing beneficial wasps in the sweet corn.

To keep the birds at bay, we invested in a noise making cannon- our experience from last year proved it is effective after just a few times. Still, you will see some bird and worm damage on the ears in this week’s share. In addition to managing pests, another challenge with growing sweet corn organically is that corn has heavy nutrient demands. We switched corn varieties this season, in hopes of growing a larger ear. Since we do not utilize chemical fertilizers like conventional growers, we have to look for varieties that respond well to organic management practices.

7/22/14, share #8

Another treat in this week’s harvest are the Purple Viking potatoes. This beautiful variety has a deep purple skin with hot pink splashes and a creamy white flesh. Delicious baked, roasted or mashed, this is one of Tom and my favorite potato varieties, not only for its appearance but for its wonderful flavor.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Posted in On The Farm

Italian Bread Salad and herb dressings

After many years working behind the same walls, dancing between sweaty bodies and hot equipment, I half jokingly refer to myself as a recovering restaurant chef. For me, the farm to table movement not only translates into healthier meals but a healthier spirit as well. Don’t get me wrong, sweaty bodies and equipment are abundant on the farm as well, but the difference is the fresh air and the glisten from the sun (or rain) keeps things in humble perspective.

One of the greatest discoveries I have made culinarily speaking, is the fresh herb garden. Endless creative possibility lives in the simplicity of plucking a few sprigs of marjoram and a little oregano, perhaps a bundle of parsley too and voila, there in the palm of your hand is enough flavor to build a whole meal around. As a chef I strive on creativity aroused through the senses. A walk through the herb garden can take an idea with loose ends and quickly bring it together, and I always say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”  Here are a few recipes to highlight herbs. Hopefully these dressings can replace some store bought family favorites in your fridge. Enjoy!

Herb Cucumber Ranch Dressing

1-1/2 cup drained plain yogurt
1/2 cup coconut milk
juice of one lemon
3 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp coconut aminos or worcester or soy sauce
4 cloves garlic (fresh if you have it)
1 small onion, grated
1/4 cup grated cucumber
3 tbs fresh herbs like dill, tarragon, oregano, parsley
2 tbs chives

In a large bowl or with a mortar and pestle smash garlic into a paste. Clean all your herbs by dunking in cold water and removing stems, reserve stems along with garlic wrappers for stock. Chop herbs very fine and add to garlic with a teaspoon of salt and teaspoon of black pepper. Work these ingredients together into a small grind. Add onion and onion juices along with the rest of the ingredients. Whisk very well and chill overnight. The other option is to throw all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. 

Italian Herb Vinaigrette

1 head roasted garlic, squeezed to freedom
1 small red onion, diced fine
1/3 cup oregano
1/4 cup marjoram
1/3 cup parsley
1/3 cup basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup choice vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Optional 1 tbs parmesan cheese or sundried tomatoes

Roast one head of garlic, whole. Oven temp. 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes until it turns golden brown and is soft to the touch. Just pop it in on a sheet pan and let it cook.

Add your herbs, onion and roasted garlic to a blender or food processor, while running add spices and water, add dijon and slowly add olive oil to desired consistency. You may choose to add more oil. I prefer to leave it alone and add oil if needed per use. 

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

6 cups day old crusty bread, cut into cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup thinly sliced kale (tuscan pictured)
1/2 cup sliced red onion
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup olive oil
10 basil leaves, torn
juice of a lemon
1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed well
2 eggplants, grilled and chopped

Add garlic, oil and lemon in large bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, whisk well. Add beans, toss, add tomatoes, bread, basil and onion, toss again. Add cooled eggplant with any of its juices and gently toss. Option- dress with either the Herb Ranch Dressing or Italian Herb Vinaigrette. Also optional- add cubed cheese, Italian hard salami or roasted potatoes. Enjoy!

Post and recipes written by Kristin Moyer, Farm Chef Educator at Blooming Glen Farm and passionate farm-fresh food advocate. Kristin cooks at The Perk in Perkasie, does private catering and serves on the Pennridge Wellness Committee, working to create edible school yards in Pennridge School District. Together with Blooming Glen Farm she hopes to someday start a Community Supported Kitchen at the farm.

Photos and editing by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen Farm owner.

Posted in Recipes

Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh Salad ingredientsTabbouleh (also tabouli) is a classic Middle Eastern salad made from whole grains and highlighted by the fresh herbs, cucumbers, and tomatoes that are in season right now. The whole grains in tabbouleh come from bulgur, which is made from whole hard wheat (wheat berries) that’s been parboiled, dried, and then cracked.

This whole wheat is very different than the wheat-based products we often buy at the grocery store:  When wheat is refined and processed — primarily into wheat flour — nearly all of its nutritional value is stripped away.  In fact, “more than half of wheat’s B vitamins, 90 percent of the vitamin E, and virtually all of the fiber” are lost.  When wheat is refined, its nutritious bran and germ are removed and we’re left only with a starch that’s digested as a simple sugar, causing our blood sugar levels to spike as if we’d eaten candy!

Healthy whole wheat like bulgur, on the other hand, is a complex carbohydrate that offers a unique combination of minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, all of which work in concert together to protect our cardiovascular health, prevent Type 2 Diabetes, promote digestive health, and help fight off cancer.  Once cooked, bulgur has a mild, nutty flavor that adds a fantastic chewy, meaty texture to foods. Mix it into a salad, stirfry, chili, spaghetti sauce, taco filling, or use it as a base for a grain salad (such as this Asian Bulgur and Edamame Salad), stuffed peppers, breakfast porridge, or savory side dish.

In addition to whole wheat, tabbouleh takes advantage of the cucumber bounty we’ve been enjoying with our share.  Cucumbers aren’t commonly thought of for their nutrition, but they actually are a good source of vitamin A, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese, and a very good source of potassium and vitamins C and K.  Thanks to the phytonutrients in cucumbers, they also bring our bodies anti-inflammatory, antioxident, and anti-cancer benefits, too.

The important key to accessing all this great stuff, however, is consuming the skin. (Some might remember that this is true for many of the vegetables we eat — we’ve talked about potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and eggplant here before :) )  If you’re just getting used to eating the skin on cucumbers, try peeling only half of the skin off at first, then move up to keeping it all intact.

Tabbouleh a naturally versatile and adaptable dish, so feel free to play around with the grain-herb-veggie ratio.  You might prefer an herb-based salad, or you might choose to go heavy on the cucumbers, since they’re so abundant right now (as I did in the salad pictured). You could even make this recipe gluten-free by substituting bulgur for another healthy whole grain, such as quinoa. Tabbouleh pairs great with hummus, baba ganoush, and pita.

Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh

Ingredients
2 cups boiling water
1-1/4 cup bulgur wheat (use quinoa for a gluten-free version)
1 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup mint, chopped
1/4 cup minced onion
1+ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered or chopped
1+ cup cucumbers, diced

Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon, more to taste
1 tsp salt, more to taste
pinch of pepper
pinch allspice

Method
Place bulgur in a bowl and pour boiling water over top. Let stand for 20-30 minutes, until softened, but still chewy.  Drain off any excess liquid, and fluff. If using quinoa, prepare per package instructions. Add herbs and veggies to bulgur and gently stir. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Add dressing to bulgur, gently stirring until dressing coats salad well. Adjust seasonings to taste.  Serve chilled.

Post Sources
Harvard School of Public Health
Nutrition Data (Bulgur)
Nutrition Data (Cucumber)
WH Foods (Cucumber)

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Posted in Recipes Tagged , , , , , ,

Eggplants and Fresh Garlic

On the scene this week is the first of the eggplant, an oblong deep purple Asian style. This type of eggplant has a long, skinny shape, with a thin skin, delicate flavor, and not as many of the seeds that tend to make eggplant bitter. I made a wonderful dinner the other night that was a hit with the whole family. It used four ingredients from the share (eggplant, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and onions), fresh oregano and thyme from the discovery garden, and mozzarella from the farmer’s market. You can check out the recipe for Roasted Eggplant, Zucchini and Chickpea wraps at marthastewart.com. Delicious!

Also new this week is fresh garlic. Chances are you’ve only seen garlic in its dried form, its ivory cloves encased in their papery husks. You’re probably used to struggling to peel dried garlic, only to reveal itty-bitty sized cloves. Not this garlic!

The flavor is exquisite and subtle, the skin moist and incredibly easy to peel. The cloves are at their largest, not having shrunk in size at all in the drying process, for this garlic is straight from the ground. The drying process strengthens the skin and prepares it for long term storage, so handle your fresh garlic with care- it can bruise easily. Store in the refrigerator if you don’t plan to use it right away.

You can use both the cloves and the aromatic wrappers. The following recipe for Fresh Garlic Spread makes use of the fresh garlic wrappers.

Peel 2 heads of garlic, and separate the fresh wrappers from the cloves, as in the photo below.

Put the garlic cloves in a glass jar in the fridge and reserve for another use. Fill a medium saucepan half full of water, bring to a simmer. Simmer wrappers for 5 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Blend the garlic wrappers in a food processor, slowly adding approximately 1/4 cup olive oil, until it is bright golden in color with the texture of mayonnaise. Add sea salt to taste. Use to spread on crusty baguette, or as a base for salad dressing.

Like the scapes, the season is fleeting, so enjoy! As soon as the field dries out a bit we will be pulling the entire garlic crop, bundling it and hanging it for a month or so to dry.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Posted in Recipes, Weekly Share

Cool off with Cucumbers

It’s that time of year- the cucumbers are prolific! The following four recipes- potato salad with beans and kirbies, cucumber water with citrus basil, and cucumber avocado soup garnished with cucumber salsa all highlight this summer staple.

Cucumbers have a long list of health benefits, but the thing that really makes them the perfect summer fruit is their cooling effect on the body. We grow two types of cucumbers here at Blooming Glen Farm.

Slicing cucumbers are what you probably are most familiar with: they are around 8-10 inches long, juicy, with watery seeds. The skin can be thick, so you may be tempted to peel them- but the skin does contain a high level of vitamin A, so avoid peeling it if you can. “Slicing” is a catchall term for lots of varieties, including the ones overflowing in the basket in the image above of our farm market booth in Wrightstown. Great in smoothies or cucumber salads, sliced onto a sandwhich or eaten raw with your dip of choice.

Kirby cucumbers are small, usually 4 inches long or less, with thin bumpy skins and firm flesh. They are the most common variety of pickling cucumbers but we also love them as a fresh snack or diced into cucumber salsa. Super crunchy and full of great cucumber flavor.

Potato Salad with Beans and Kirby Cucumbers

Ingredients
4 cups red new potatoes
2 cups beans
1 cup kirby cucumbers
1/4 cup onion

Herb Vinaigrette
1 tbs shallot
2 tbs fresh oregano
1 tbs fresh marjoram
1 tbs fresh parsley
1 tbs fresh chives
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 tsp black pepper
salt to taste

Halve new potatoes and cover with cold water in a large stock pot. Add 3 tbs of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and roll out onto a sheet tray, give them a few shakes of oil and vinegar while they are hot. Hot potatoes love to soak up flavor. Put in fridge to cool.

Clean and snap beans in half, blanch in salted boiling water and submerge drained beans in ice water to crisp and lock in that bright green color. Make pretty stripes on the kirbies with your vegetable peeler. Cube. Dice onion. In a large bowl whisk your dressing ingredients. Add your potatoes, cukes and beans to dressing and toss, toss, toss…toss more. Enjoy!

Cucumber Water with Citrus Basil

Cucumbers make a super refreshing drink- its a farmer’s natural gatorade! This was a crowd favorite during Chef Kristin’s CSA tasting this week.

Peel and cut in half lengthwise 2 medium slicing cucumbers. If the cucumbers have large seeds scrape them out with a spoon. Coarsely chop the cucumber and stir in: A pinch of salt. Cut in half and squeeze: 3 lemons (or limes). You should have about 1/4 cup juice. Measure into the jar of a blender: 1 cup water. Add the cucumbers and purée well, about 1 minute. Pour through a strainer, pushing the pulp with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Add the lemon, or lime, juice. Add some muddled citrus basil. Leave overnight for flavor to infuse. Strain out herb. Serve over ice.

Cold Cucumber Avocado Soup

Ingredients
3 slicing cucumbers, peeled and seeded, roughly chopped
2 avocados
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tbs honey
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

Purée all the ingredients. Refrigerate until cold. Serve garnished with cucumber salsa. (Recipe follows)

Cucumber Salsa

2 kirby cucumbers, diced (no need to peel)
1 tbs onion, finely diced
1 tbs garlic, finely diced
cilantro, one handful, chopped
juice of one lime
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Use as garnish on cucumber soup, or on top of a grilled white fish. Also wonderful with chips!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.  Recipes provided by Kristin Moyer, Blooming Glen Farm Chef.

Posted in Recipes

Cucumbers galore!

Cucumbers and more cucumbers! This week’s share includes both slicing and pickling cucumbers. The pickling cucumbers, or kirby’s, are also great for snacking- they are chock full of flavor and crunch. I like to save the larger slicing cucumbers for salads, or to add to my morning smoothies. The kirby’s can be made into a small batch of refrigerator pickles, layered with sweet onions, dill and scapes, and a hot brine poured over top. You can’t go wrong! We currently have 1/2 bushel boxes (20 pounds) available for purchase for $30. Just send us an email to reserve your box.

Also in this week’s share are freshly dug new red potatoes. These potatoes are straight out of the ground, and have not been cured yet, which is why you’ll find the skin thin and delicate. Keep them in the fridge until you use them up, as it is the curing process that stengthens the skin for storage. And no need to peel them- enjoy them fresh as it is only for about a month each year that you’ll see new potatoes. Enjoy!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Posted in Uncategorized

Turnip the Dirt: A Kids Farm View

Hopping Toads!

As we took off the covers on our melons we found more than just baby cantaloupes and watermelon plants. After taking off the row covers we started taking out the hoops. As my mother loosened the hoops for me and my father, she found multiple toads. We took them from the field so they would not be squashed by the tractor when my father cultivated the aisles of the field.

They were very difficult to catch because they are very fast! I was running all through the aisles to keep up with them. So keep an eye out for toads!

And here is a photo of the watermelons- they are growing fast!

Written by Dakota, a 9 year old farm girl who loves to chase her chickens, read books, ride her bike and cuddle with her dog. Her favorite thing about growing up on a farm is getting to eat the food that grows right outside her door. Photos by Tricia Borneman and Tom Murtha. 

Posted in Turnip the Dirt

Cold Marinated String Beans & Scapes

Pick-your-own string beans are a sure sign that summer has arrived at Blooming Glen!  Although we often don’t think about these beans as being particularly healthful, they actually have “impressive antioxidant capacity,” containing flavanoids, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K.  They’re a fantastic source of dietary fiber, which helps facilitate the passage of waste through our gut, as well as the mineral silicon, which works with calcium and magnesium to aid bone health.  And, because it’s in the pea and bean family, they also offer a nice bit of plant-based protein.

Given the heat wave we’re in the midst of, I’m sticking with cool ingredients once again for this week’s recipe — which has certainly been a theme here on the blog as of late! (If you haven’t already, check out last week’s recipe for Raw Mediterranean Squash & Greens Salad and Kristin’s awesome Raw Veggie Hash with Green Garlic Vinaigrette in a Lettuce Bundle.) Although there is a bit of stove time needed for blanching the vegetables, the recipe below requires very little cooking, little time, and little effort.  It’s a perfect dish to make ahead and have on hand for a healthy meal side dish or snack.  If you only have one bunch of scapes on hand, no worries! The optimal string beans-to-garlic scapes ratio may be a little off, but just use what you have :)  You can also skip the scapes all together; you may want to add a clove or two of minced garlic or a bit of granulated garlic to the marinades below.  There are three variations of the recipe, of which the Asian is pictured.

Cold Marinated String Beans & Scapes


Basic
1 quart string beans, trimmed
2 bunches garlic scapes, trimmed and cut in quarters
1/3 cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce
3 tbs sesame oil
1/2 tbs agave, or other sweetener

Asian
1 quart string beans, trimmed
2 bunches garlic scapes, trimmed and cut in quarters
3 tbs mirin
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce
2 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs sesame seeds
1 tsp minced ginger
pinch of crushed red pepper, or more to taste

Italian
1 quart string beans, trimmed
1 bunch garlic scapes, trimmed and cut in quarters
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs Italian seasoning, or combination of basil, oregano, and thyme

Boil a large pot of water. Blanch veggies: Add string beans to boiling water for 3 minutes, then add scapes, and blanch for 2 more minutes. Drain veggies and drop into ice bath to stop cooking. Drain again and set aside.

In a large resealable bag (or container with a tight fitting lid), add veggies and all of the remaining ingredients. Zip the bag closed and shake until veggies are evenly coated. Let cool in the fridge for a couple hours, tossing them once or twice. Or, marinate overnight.  Toss once more before serving.

Post sources
Nutrition Data
Web MD
WH Foods

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Posted in Recipes Tagged , , , , ,