June 22, 2021

 

 

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Green Onions, Chard, Carrots, Zucchini, Amaranth Greens, Potatoes, and Apricots

 

Bread this week: Barbari OR Whole Wheat, your choice of one

 

The apricots in your box should be eaten immediately or made into a pie. They are ripe and don’t have much of a shelf life. They are the last of the season. Hope you enjoy!

 

This Week on the Farm

We have had a hectic week here on the farm, not only was it 110 degrees here on Friday and 109 Wednesday and Thursday, our cooler decided that it had had enough. It broke down on us Thursday night, we immediately called Bob Poggi who has been fixing our cooling systems for years, and he dropped all other jobs to help just a small account that was in desperate need. We had all our apricots and everything that we had started picking for our normal Friday in the cooler. So when he told us the compressor was out, we scrambled to get everything out of the cooler, we called the Co-ops, our farming neighbors and asked for their help. As stressful as these things are, and as much as we hope they never happen to us, its times like these that remind us of the supportive community we have around us. Durst, our good friends form a neighboring farm that we often get items for the CSA from, didn’t hesitate to let us store all the apricots in their cooler, letting us know that they were there for whatever we needed. I emailed the Co-op who we have been selling to for years and let them know the bind we were in. They called in the morning and said “how can we help, what do you need to move?” They were more than happy to take anything that we needed to get out of the cooler, things that wouldn’t last long. So we picked a few things, loaded up and got everything out. When I called to thank them for their kindness, the produce buyer Meghan said “This is what our relationship is, you are there for us, and we are there for you when needed.”

Considering how devastating it could have been for a farmer to lose their cooler in 110 degree weather, we did okay. It was just us women here at the time, no Jeff to make the calls, fix the compressor or jury-rig something up until a new one could be bought. Jeff has always been the go to guy, Mr. fix-it, when something goes wrong he is there to put it back together, to make the decisions. So having him two hours away, unable to do much more than advise us over the phone, we got through it. Alison got a thrill from it, knowing that in all the chaos, and stress that we could take care of it, that we were very capable in handling the situation.

For me, it was a little different experience. I was the one emailing, calling and trying to move things, and every time someone was worried, or jumped up to help I felt a rush of emotion, of gratitude. Feeling the love and support of the people around us was everything for me during this time. Someone asked me a while ago, why we give away food, or trade for goods why we put so much effort and energy into our relationships or potential relationships. To him it looked like we were losing money and that isn’t what a business wants. After this happened, I called him and told him, “This is why.”  We had a hurdle that came from nowhere and we would not have been able to get over it without those relationships. We would have lost so much more if it hadn’t been for people that we support and that support us. To paraphrase Jim Durst, “we would not be where we are without a lot of help from a lot of people.”

  The cooler is up and running now, Bob was here until 9:00 in the evening on Friday installing a new compressor so hopefully the stress will be leveling out to just about normal. But I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their support, whether it’s been years or just a few months, we would not be where we are without everyone one of you. Everyone that helps is irreplaceable in our farming community, going above and beyond when the need arises.

Have a cool week! ~Claire

 

AMARANTH

Amaranth has quite a dramatic history. It was cultivated by the mighty Aztecs about 6,000-8,000 years ago. Amaranth was not just a food staple for the Aztecs. It played a big part in their worship. They built statues of their deity using amaranth grain and honey. These statues were worshipped, broken, and distributed for eating. This practice is the primary reason amaranth did not survive as a staple. When the Spanish arrived with Cortez, as part of their efforts to force Christianity on the pagan natives, they outlawed the grain. Amaranth fields were burned and cultivators were punished. Lucky for us, they were unable to completely destroy the grain. In a few remote areas, small amounts of amaranth survived. For awhile it was primarily used to make a traditional sweet called alegria.

Amaranth was rediscovered in Mexico where fortunately for us, this historic grain flew under the radar until the 1970s when it was introduced into the United States  saved by the descendents of the Aztecs, who believed that amaranth provided them with supernatural power.

               Just as the name would suggest, amaranth leaves are the leafy green from the amaranth plant. Grown in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean (where it’s referred to as “callaloo”), It turns out that the leafy portion of the grain is just as nutritious.

Amaranth contains tocotrienols a form of vitamin E that may reduce cholesterol as well as your risk of heart disease, Amaranth reduces stroke risk and are a good source of potassium. Having ample potassium in the body helps move oxygen to the brain which stimulates neural activity and cognitive function while reducing your risk of stroke. Potassium can also improve brain function by maintaining electroconnectivity in the brain.

Amaranth Reduces leaves contain magnesium, a mineral that combines with potassium to reduce your risk of hypertension, which is protective against heart disease. Magnesium also has a host of other benefits including increasing energy, calming nerves and anxiety, relieving muscle spasm and aches, and preventing osteoporosis.

Amaranth Improves digestion with leaves as a source of dietary fiber which makes them helpful at reducing constipation. They're also easier to digest than other leafy greens like kale, which often needs to be massaged or cooked slightly before eating to improve digestibility.

Amaranth is a good source of iron so they help prevent anemia in those that are iron deficient.

Amaranth is delicious fermented. A traditional African amaranth green preparation involves fermenting the leaves and jarring them to be eaten in the off season. Fermenting the greens is doubly healthful because you get to enjoy the inherent healthfulness of the green as well as the benefits of fermented foods. Fermented foods are good for digestion because they contain probiotics or good bacteria. Fermenting the entire crop is a good way to use the stems as well. All you have to do is add the amaranth leaves to a mason jar and then cover with filtered water, half of a sliced onion, and two tablespoons of salt. Store for a few weeks in a cool place, opening the jar every few days to release built up gases. Keeps for three to six months in the refrigerator.

Amaranth brings Versatility they can be eaten raw in a salad, added to a stir fry, soup, or a simmered dish like curry. As mentioned above, they can be fermented and jarred to be eaten year round. Add amaranth leaves any place that you would traditionally add spinach as they have a similar texture and appearance.

 

Amaranth Dal

¾ cup moong dal mung dal

1 bunch amaranth leaves (tough stems trimmed , then washed thoroughly)

2 heaping tbsp chopped garlic

1 large tomato (finely diced)

1 tsp red pepper flakes 

½ tsp turmeric

1 tbsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp amchur (I use chaat masala if I don't have amchur)

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

Salt to taste

Chop the amaranth leaves finely and place in a large pot or in a pressure cooker along with the mung dal and turmeric. Add enough water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until tender, adding more water if needed. Or if using pressure cooker, pressure-cook for the recommended amount of time for mung dal. Heat the oil. When it shimmers, add the cumin seeds, stir for a few seconds, then add the garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes. Let the tomatoes cook down until they are pulpy. Add the cumin and coriander powders, aamchur, and red pepper flakes or chili powder. Stir everything well and let it all cook for a couple of minutes. Add the dal along with the amaranth leaves. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Add water if the dal is too thick. It really depends on your taste-- I like my dal slightly runny. Let the dal simmer for about 5 minutes, then turn off heat and serve hot with rice or rotis.

 

Lentil Risotto with Rainbow Chard and Carrots

1/2 C Chana Dal or yellow split mung dal (95g)

1 Tbs + 1 tsp Vegetable Oil divided,

1 C Arborio Rice rinsed and drained

5C Water or Vegetable Broth divided

1 tsp Fine Sea Salt divided

1 Tbs Fresh Ginger grated

1 tsp Coarsely Ground Black Pepper

1 tsp Cumin Seed

10 Cashews broken into pieces - plus a few more for garnish

10 Curry leaves optional

1 Tbs Shallot minced

1 C Chard chopped and packed

1/2 tsp Fresh Garlic grated

For Garnish:

3 Tbs Vegetable Oil I use coconut oil

2 Carrots peeled and cut into match sticks

Place the chana dal in a pan over medium heat and stir, toasting lightly for about 3 minutes until it slightly turns color. Remove from the heat, rinse well in cold water and drain. Set aside.  In a large, heavy saucepan with 3" sides or a Dutch oven, heat 1 Tbs of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the washed dal and rice and toast lightly again, being careful not to break the grains - about 2-3 minutes. Add 2 C of the vegetable/water broth mixture bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then turn down the heat to low; cook, covered without stirring, until all the water is absorbed - 12-15 minutes. Add the remaining 3 C of broth cover and cook over low heat until the rice is completely cooked and softer in texture, about 15-20 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp of salt, cover and turn off the heat. Set aside.  In a sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 tsp of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, pepper, cumin seeds, cashews, curry leaves (if using), and shallot and fry until they splutter and become toasted, 30 seconds. Add the chopped chard and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and sauté until it is wilted down and cooked through about 3 minutes (it will seem dry, but it's okay, keep going until wilted). Just before removing the chard mixture off the heat, toss in the garlic, stirring, and incorporating for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and the spicy chard mixture to the cooked risotto mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. The rice should not be neither too firm nor soggy or watery (if too stiff, add a few tablespoons of water and stir). When you spoon it onto a plate it should very slowly spread. Check for salt, adjust as needed.  For the garnish, heat the oil in a flat-bottomed, nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and cook until caramelized and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve the risotto with the crispy carrots on top and a few chopped cashews. 

 

Hara Pakoda

Thotakura (amaranth) leaves, finely chopped - 3 bunch.

Hing - 1 pinch.

Chili powder - 1/2 tea spoon.

Salt - to taste.

Sesame seeds - 1 tea spoon.

Green chilies (finely chopped) - 1/2 tea spoon.

 Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 tea spoon.

Chickpea flour - 1 cup.

In a bowl, put in the amaranth leaves, hing, red chili powder, a little salt, sesame seeds, green chilies, ginger garlic paste, and chickpea flour. Mix and just rest this mixture for about 2-3 minutes till little moisture oozes out. Mix all these ingredients well together without adding water. Shape them into lime sized roundels and keep aside. In a hot pan, add oil and deep fry these Amaranth dumplings on a medium heat so that they get cooked nicely. It takes about 6 to 7 minutes to cook. Fry till they turn golden in color and crispy. Serve hot with any type sweet chutney.

 

Crispy Scallion Potato Pancakes

4 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater

1 bunch of scallions, both white and green parts, very finely chopped

1 large egg white

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

3/4 cup vegetable oil

Squeeze the shredded potatoes dry. In a large bowl, using 2 forks, mix the shredded potatoes with the scallions, egg white, salt and pepper. Set two 10-inch nonstick skillets over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to each skillet. Add the potato mixture to the skillets and press into firm cakes. Set a heatproof plate or glass pie plate over each cake just to cover it. Weight down each plate with a large, heavy can and reduce the heat to moderate. Cook for 5 minutes. Uncover carefully and slide the cakes onto plates. Add 3 tablespoons of the remaining oil to each skillet. Carefully invert the potato cakes and return them to the skillets. Press the cakes firmly and cook until they are browned and crisp on the bottom, about 12 minutes longer. Slide the potato cakes onto a work surface. Cut into wedges and serve.

 

Apricot Pie

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter-flavored shortening

6 tablespoons water, or as needed

1 cup white sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour 

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon juice 

5 cups fresh apricots, pitted and quartered

1 teaspoon sugar for sprinkling, or as desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Mix 2 1/2 cups of flour and the salt in a bowl; cut the shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly. Using a fork, mix in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough just holds together. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a ball. Working on a floured work surface, roll each ball out into a crust big enough for a 9-inch pie dish with an inch or so to spare. Carefully lift a crust, fold into quarters, position into pie dish, and unfold the crust. Set the other crust aside. Mix the sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and cinnamon together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined; stir in the lemon juice and apricots. Spoon the apricot filling over the pie crust in the dish, and top with the reserved crust. Crimp the edges of the crusts together with a fork, cut away the excess crust, and cut slits into the pie to allow steam to escape. Cover the edges of the pie crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent burning. Bake on center rack of the preheated oven until the pie is browned and the filling is bubbling and thickened, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool and sprinkle top with 1 teaspoon of sugar.