Canaan Keeps FarmRaisers Alive

Kale. Carrots. Beets. Potatoes. Powerkraut®!

These are just a few of the delightful local foods I’ve received from Root 5 Farm over the past few months as part of my fall FarmRaiser—a community-supported agriculture (CSA) fundraiser run by the Canaan Elementary School PTA that supports the school, the farm, and the idea of healthy, local eating in our community.

Vital Communities launched the FarmRaiser program in 2012 and coordinated it for several years before moving on to other projects. Canaan Elementary was among the first to adopt the program—and, according to Becka Warren at Vital Communities, who helped establish FarmRaisers in our region, it’s the very last school in the Upper Valley to keep the program going.

So why does Canaan bother?

It’s not a big fundraiser for the PTA—the school earned $600 for the 25 shares community members purchased this fall—but money isn’t the goal anyway, says PTA Secretary Hillary Gillies.

“The PTA loves it because it promotes local farms and foods and healthy eating,” says Canaan parent Kristen DeLeault, who for the past four years has coordinated the program. Kristen has worked hard to find partner farms—past partners Blue Ox Farm in Enfield and Autumn Harvest Farm in Grafton unfortunately went out of business. This year she coordinated a plan with Fairlee-based Root 5 Farm to personally pick up the FarmRaiser shares at their normal CSA pickup location in Lebanon and deliver them to Canaan Elementary. Her persistence and commitment have made the program possible.

“There aren’t many big farms nearby in New Hampshire that can sustain what we were hoping for,” Kristen says. “It’s not as local as we’d like, but it’s still in the Upper Valley.”

For Root 5 Farm, co-owner Danielle Allen says, the program just broke even financially. But it still made good business sense. “It was a great way to move product, especially in the fall when we have big harvests,” she said. “And we got exposure to a whole new set of customers without the farm having to do a lot of legwork.”

“It’s a lovely collaboration. It brings an awareness of farms and healthy food in our communities,” Danielle says. “It has all the good feels.”

“Canaan Elementary School continues to inspire us with its creative thinking about fundraising that is delicious, healthy, and local,” says Becka. “We love seeing the FarmRaiser continue all these years, and we hope other area schools consider whether it might work for their communities. It shows that eating local can take root at the earliest age (pun intended)!”

As a parent and FarmRaiser participant, I love that I can support my PTA and a local farm business all while getting something healthy and delicious for my family in exchange. My kids always look forward to FarmRaiser pickup day—and while they enjoy their fresh, local Kale Chips, I get to indulge in some delicious and simple Curried Carrot and Coconut Soup!

Want to start a FarmRaiser in your school? Get started with our online resources.

Flavors 2017 Recipes

Another delicious and fun Flavors of the Valley yesterday! Thanks to all the wonderful vendors who spent so many hours preparing for and tabling at the big event. A special thanks to Hartford Area Career & Technical Center, Edgewater Farm, and Piecemeal Pies for supplying the samples at the Vital Communities tables.

Curried Carrot Soup

  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion until tender and translucent. Stir in the curry powder. Add the chopped carrots, and stir until the carrots are coated. Add ginger. Pour in the vegetable broth, and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the carrots and broth to a blender, and puree until smooth (be careful blending hot liquids!). Pour back into the pot, add coconut milk and season to taste. Thin with water to your preferred consistency.

Jam Squares

Thanks to Emily Malnati at Edgewater for making these sweet treats for Flavors of the Valley

Inspired by the original recipe by Gretchen Taylor in the Plainfield cookbook.  Revised by The Things We Cook. Reworked by Kathleen Maslan from Edgewater Farm.

1. Preheat oven to 350’F.
2. Mix together:

· 4.5 c. flour

· 1.75 c. sugar

· 1/2 tsp. salt

· 2 eggs

· 1 egg yolk

· 1 tsp. vanilla

· 2-1/2 c. butter, chunked

3. Press 4 cups in bottom of ½ sheet pan.
4. Bake 8 minutes at 350’F.
5. Let cool a bit, spread 3 c. fruit (preferably berry filling!) over the bottom
6.  Mix together topping:

· 2c. flour

· 2c. oats

· 1.5 c. brown sugar

· 1 c. butter, cubed, cold

7. Sprinkle on topping.  Perfect stage to freeze at.  Otherwise…
8. Bake at 350’ F for about 45 minutes, or until top is golden with filling bubbling on side.

 

Piecemeal Pies Chocolate Beet Brownies

Thanks to Justin Barrett for creating this recipe just for Vital Communities.

3 medium red beets
18 tablespoons butter
9 oz dark chocolate, preferably 70%
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoon strong coffee
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
  • Grease a 9″x13″ pan and dust with cocoa powder.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Boil beets in unsalted water until tender.
  • Peel the cooked beets by rubbing off their skins.  Place in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth.
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate, coffee, and salt. Stir to melt.
  • Stir in 1 cup of the beet puree.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium high speed until thick and pale. When the whisk is lifted, the mixture should slowly fall in thick ribbons.
  • With a spatula, gently fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs, followed by the flour.  Do not over mix.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 35-45 minutes, just until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool completely before cutting.

Grilling Pizza

Most people think of summer as grilling season, but I have my grill going year-round. It’s easy, makes fewer dirty pans, and the food just tastes better with the smokey grill flavor. And, one of my favorite grill meals is pizza.

Pizza is already one of the most universally loved foods, and grilling it takes it to a new level of deliciousness. Most stores have ready to cook pizza dough, but you’ll find an easy dough recipe below.

Trek 2015 1

Easy Grilled Pizza

Turn on grill to medium heat. Roll out pizza dough to desired size on a floured surface. Sprinkle some corn meal on a baking sheet and transfer rolled out dough to sheet. Brush dough with olive oil.

Transfer dough to heated grill oiled side down. Cook for around minutes and remove from grill back onto the baking sheet with the grilled side up. Add desired toppings to pizza. Reduce grill heat to low and return topped pizza grill and cook with the grilled cover closed until done.

The fun part about pizza is that you get to  make it your own by adding your own family’s favorite toppings, or throw on the leftovers lurking in the fridge. This is the ultimate in quick, easy, versatile, and delicious. Mangia!!

 

grilling-cabbage-and-pizza1-credit-julia-a-reed

 

Easy Pizza Dough

courtesy of Food.com

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 14teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2cup lukewarm water (plus an additional 2 tbsp)
  1. Mix 1 cup of flour with all other ingredients.
  2. Gradually add 2nd cup of flour until it forms a ball. …
  3. Let the dough rest 10-15 minutes in a bowl covered with a dish towel or plastic wrap to keep it warm.

grilled-pizza1-credit-julia-a-reed

All photos Julia A Reed

 

 

 

Grilled Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, is a popular vegetable found in CSA shares and at farmers’ markets all around the Upper Valley. Here is an easy and surprisingly delicious way to enjoy this plentiful local food.

napa cabbage

Grilled Napa Cabbage

adapted from Martha Stewart.com

  • 3 tablespoons hot mustard
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated garlic
  • 1 medium head napa cabbage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves (OPTIONAL)
  1. Heat grill to high. Mix together mustard, agave nectar, 1 teaspoon oil, the garlic, salt, and pepper and put aside.

  2. Cut cabbage lengthwise into quarters, leaving core intact. Brush cabbage on all sides with 2 teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  3. Grill cabbage, flat side down, 3 minutes. Flip, and continue to grill until charred. Remove from grill.

  4. Brush cabbage on all sides with mustard glaze. Arrange cabbage on a platter, sprinkle with basil, and serve.

grilled-chinese-napa-cabbage3-credit-julia-a-reed

Photo credit Julia A Reed

Hot Sauce is Cool

Do you have a handful of shriveled chili peppers at the bottom of last week’s CSA box? And now a new CSA full of more chilies? Make hot sauce and use them up! Late summer and early fall is hot sauce season. Almost all the ingredients you need are available now from Vermont and New Hampshire farm stands and farmers’ markets.

Homemade hot sauce is easy and delicious. Also, it’s super cool.

My dad makes a sweet and vinegary hot sauce that can sit on the shelf for months, corroding the lid of the jar and getting more and more delicious. I grew up eating it on fried eggs and stir fries. After spending a year working in a barbecue restaurant, I started making my own versions. Now I make a few different kinds each August and September with whatever hot peppers are around.

There are so many ways to make hot sauce – ingredients and technique vary widely by culture and household. You can ferment it (like Sriracha and Tabasco) or use vinegar (like the recipe below). You can keep it plain or add sweetener and other flavors (herbs, fruit, oils, and spices). You can cook the peppers or leave them raw. Make what you like! A quick Internet search brings up a huge range of hot sauce recipes if you are looking for a specific style.
Most of my hot sauces are secret preparations, and sometimes the peppers just tell me what to do. But here’s a very simple formula for making your own.

The first step is to put on a pair of disposable gloves. Hot peppers will burn your skin for longer than they burn your mouth. I have made hot sauce without gloves with mixed results, but that habit ended abruptly after I spent most of a hot summer night last August lying on hot-pepper-herb-sauces-credit-julia-a-reed-2my bed alternately clutching a cold washcloth with both hands and dipping my fingers in ice water while trying to catch snatches of sleep.

If you are fearful of your hot sauce being too hot, remove the seeds and white membrane that holds the seeds and just use the pepper flesh. Absolutely wear gloves for this.

 

Simple Fresh Hot Sauce Recipe

Makes about 1 ½ to 2 cups

Ingredients

10 – 15 chili peppers, any kind
1/2 sweet bell pepper (OPTIONAL)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves
teaspoon sea salt
1-2 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup

Directions

  1. Put on a pair of disposable gloves.
  2. Wash the peppers and cut off the stems.
  3. If you want a hotter sauce, leave the seeds in. For a milder but still hot sauce, split the peppers lengthwise and remove seeds and the white membrane.
  4. Puree peppers and all the other ingredients in food processor or blender.
  5. Taste and adjust salt, sugar, garlic, and vinegar as needed. If it’s too thin, add more peppers and puree some more. If it’s too thick, add more vinegar.
  6. Pour into a clean jar and store in the fridge and eat within a few weeks.

hot-pepper-herb-sauces-credit-julia-a-reed-4

Shelf life of hot sauce

I don’t have one simple answer for this, but in general, if you have a lot of vinegar in the sauce, you can keep the sauce for a long time. What’s enough? Enough that it tastes pretty sour and is fairly thin, like commercial hot sauce. If you want to keep that fresh not-too-sour taste, use less vinegar and use up the hot sauce within a couple weeks. If you ferment or cook the hot sauce and use a sterilized jar for storage, the sauce may last longer. Discard if the hot sauce grows mold, gets slimy or discolored, or develops an off taste or smell.

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed

Using Up Wilty Herbs

You know those bunches of herbs that collect at the bottom of the fridge crisper? They get wilty and we feel guilty for not having the time and motivation to use them faster. But don’t worry and don’t throw them away. Instead, wash them, compost any yellowed or gross-looking leaves, pat them dry, and toss them in a food processor with garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Use this delicious green sauce as a dip for chips or crusty bread. Or with the addition of some vinegar or citrus juice, use it as a marinade for pork chops or steak. Add it to salad dressing or hot-pepper-herb-sauces-credit-julia-a-reed-14put it on pizza crust or polenta pie with some feta and onions. Or add ground toasted nuts and grated Parmesan for a pasta topping. Have too much? Freeze it for later and now you have the beginnings of a quick meal.

What can you use for green sauce?
– parsley or cilantro leaves and stems
– other soft herbs like marjoram
– arugula
– kale
– and of course the traditional pesto ingredient, basil
– a mix of any or all of these is good too

Real pesto from Genoa, Italy is traditionally made using a marble mortar and pestle with basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, Parmesan and pecorino sardo cheeses and olive oil. I don’t like to mess with tradition. However, I DO think that it’s okay to make something out of what you have in front of you, which is why I call my parsley and sunflower seed green sauce “New England Pesto.” (On the topic of authenticity in food versus following the original spirit of a dish, I like this article by chef and food writer J. Kenji López-Alt.)

New England Pesto (with Parsley & Sunflower Seeds)

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

3 cups loosely packed fresh parsley, including stems – flat-leafed variety preferred*
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted in a dry pan or 350° oven until golden brown
2 large garlic cloves, grated or mashed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (OPTIONAL)

Directions:pesto-cropped

Knife option
1. Chop parsley finely with a sharp knife.
2. Grind the toasted sunflower seeds in a mortar and pestle.
3. Add to parsley and mix in salt, garlic, pepper, olive oil, and Parmesan if using.
4. Adjust seasonings and olive oil as necessary.

Food processor option
1. Add all the ingredients together and process until smooth. 2. Adjust seasonings and olive oil as necessary.

Serve on pasta, veggies, or on a slice of bread.

*You can substitute other herbs and greens you may have around – see above.

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed and Vital Communities staff

Easy Eggplants

I’m sharing my two favorite ways to cook eggplant. They’re both easy and interesting, and are a good way to make eggplant delicious.

The first is simply to slice an eggplant lengthwise – from stem to bottom – into 1/2 inch slices. Salt and oil the slices well on both sides, and spread on a baking sheet, place on an oven rack near the heating element, and roast on the BROIL setting until one side is golden brown. This only takes a few minutes! Then flip each slice with a fork and broil on the other side. You know they’re done when a fork pierces the flesh like a chainsaw through butter. Under-cooked eggplant is like eating a wet sock, so aim for a golden, almost crisp outside and a creamy inside. Plenty of oil makes them delicious and brown well.

Now take them out, let them cool enough to handle, then chop into chunks (leaving the skin on) and throw into pasta sauce, onto pizza or sandwiches, or with dressing for a salad.

Okay, now for the impressive but easy eggplant dish in the style of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean mothers and grandmothers. This is essentially what’s known in Arabic as baba ganoush, the famous smoked eggplant spread for pita.

Do you have access to an open flame, either a gas stove, a grill, or an open fire? Great. If not, I have directions for using an oven, though it won’t have the smoky taste.

Smoky Eggplant Spread (baba ganoush)

Ingredients

  • 1 large or several small eggplants, any variety, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds total
  • the juice and grated rind of half a lemon, or lime if that’s on hand
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large clove of garlic, smashed or grated
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more
  • Small bunch of chopped parsley or cilantro
  • Freshly ground pepper, dash of cayenne, or chopped fresh smokey-eggplant-spread-croppedhot pepper (OPTIONAL)
  • Spoonful of sesame tahini (OPTIONAL)

Directions

Open flame method
1. Place whole raw eggplant(s) onto a grill or DIRECTLY over the low flame of your gas stove.
2. Let the skin closest to the flame char, then slowly rotate the eggplant with a pair of tongs until the whole thing is blackened and very soft. DON’T LEAVE IT UNATTENDED!
3. Make sure you get the eggplant ends and all sides blackened and soft. Juices may drip out, and that’s okay – just wipe up the stove afterwards.
4. Transfer the eggplant (now floppy and burnt) to a cutting board to cool.
5. When it’s cool enough to handle, chop off the stem and peel away the charred skin with your fingers or a butter knife. Leaving a few flecks of blackened skin is fine – it’s hard to get it all off!
6. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl.

Oven method
1. Heat oven to 400° F.
2. Using a fork, prick the eggplant all over.
3.Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, 50 to 60 minutes.
4. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, halve it lengthwise and scrape out the flesh, discarding the skin. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl.

Add to the cooked eggplant
To the finely chopped cooked eggplant flesh, add the remaining ingredients. Mix everything together and serve on top of warm pita bread or on crackers.

No, it’s not very pretty, but it’s delicious.

How to choose eggplants

Choose eggplants that are firm, glossy, and smooth. Once they sit around and start getting soft, dull, and spotty, they don’t seem to cook as well.

The round pale purples ones (“Beatrice” variety), the small stripey ones (“graffiti” variety),  the long slender Japanese ones and the hard to find tiny “Fairy Tale” variety are my favorites to cook and eat. But any and all are good, as long as they’re fresh!

– Bethany Fleishman

Photos: by Molly Drummond and Vital Communities staff

Beautiful Blueberry Galette

Blueberries are my absolute favorite local food! I’ve been loving blueberries longer then it’s been known that they have amazing health benefits – long before they were cool. Fresh, right off the bush is my preferred preparation (or lack of preparation… ), but baked into a breakfast treat or a sweet dessert is fine with me, too (especially if you add some Strafford Organic Sweet Cream Ice Cream). In salads, salsas, sauces – all good.

Blueberry season is here and the picking is great. Search for blueberries on the online Valley Food & Farm Guide to find pick-your-own farms near you or grab a pint at your farmers’ market or farmstand (grab a couple extra pints and freeze them for a winter treat).

 

Rosemary Blueberry Galette

adapted from lisina of Food 52

Julia A Reed food photos EDC shoot Aug 2015 (2)
Rolling pin credit Julia A Reed1700x500
Rosemary Crust
  • 1 1/4 cups all-pupose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • tablespoons fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
  • tablespoons turbinado sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cups ice-cold water
  • egg, beaten, for glazing the crust

 

Blueberry Filling
  • pints fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • lemon, juiced
  • tablespoons flour

Blueberry galette process400x250 credit Julia A Reed

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Mix together first 5 ingredients. Cut in the cubed butter (you can use knives, and food processor, a pastry cutter, your cold hands) until it resembles course corn meal or the butter is the size of a pea.
  3. Add the ice water and combine until the dough JUST begins to come together (use the pulse function if using a food processor) – don’t over mix or the crust will be tough.
  4. Turn the crust mixture out onto some plastic wrap, then wrap it and flatten it into a disk shape. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
  5. Combine all the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix well, so that the sugar and flour coat all the blueberries.
  6. Remove the chilled crust from the fridge. On a flour dusted piece of parchment large enough to cover your baking sheet, roll out the dough until it is between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick.
  7. Spoon the filling and its juices into the middle of the crust and spread it out, leaving a 2-inch border of crust. Fold the border of the crust over onto the filling, creating rustic edges.
  8. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle it with sugar. Slide the parchment and galette onto a baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

blueberry galette process credit Julia A Reed

 

 

One Pot Meal: Sausage, New Potato & Vegetable Hash

This is my favorite thing to eat in August when corn and green beans are ready, there is lots of summer squash, and new potatoes are just coming in. It’s colorful, full of bright flavors, and totally satisfying for breakfast, lunch, or supper. It’s good cold as leftovers. It practically makes itself, and unlike many of my recipes, this one contains neither garlic nor Parmesan.

Everything but the salt, pepper, and olive oil can be found at Upper Valley farmers’ markets and farm stands or maybe your CSA or backyard. Buy locally! Eat seasonally!

Sausage, New Potato & Vegetable Hash
Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients
4 pork sausages – ideally Italian or garlic
1 red pepper, sliced into strips  (green or pablano are fine too)
1 large red onion, cut into chunks (other onions or equivalent amount of leek or scallions are fine too)
1 pound new potatoes, skins on, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick.
1-2 yellow summer squash or zucchini cut into slices or small chunks (yellow crookneck is my favorite, but hard to find unless you grow them yourself.)
Kernels from an ear or two of corn (use up day- or days-old ears that are drying up in your fridge)
Handful of green beans cut or snapped in half (kale or broccoli are fine in a pinch)
2 T olive oil or fat (lard or chicken fat works well if you have some sitting around)
Salt & pepper
Handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I like cilantro or parsley)sausage potato and late vegetable hash credit Julia A

Directions
1. In a large skillet (10” or so) brown sausages on medium-high heat.

2. When sausages are half cooked, add onions and peppers and some salt.sausage potato and late vegetable hash credit Julia A (4)

3. Let peppers and onions get nice a nd browned before stirring.

4. When sausages are just cooked, remove them and the onions and peppers and set aside. Pour ¼ cup water into the pan to “deglaze” it – that is, get all the tasty browned flavors and bits off the pan. Add this pan juice to the sausages.

5. Wipe out pan to remove any sausage bits left. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil on medium high and add thesausage potato and late vegetable hash credit Julia A (8) thinly sliced potatoes in a single layer. Salt well. Let them brown them well before turning.

6. Add corn kernels, and summer squash. Let veggies brown before turning.

7. Break apart sausage into chunks and add sausage, onions, peppers, and pan juice back into hash along with chopped green beans.

8. Cook until green beans are tender and sausage is heated again. Test a potato too to make sure it’s cooked through.

9. Garnish with fresh chopped herbs. Serve with hot sauce.

Let’s talk about skillets
This hash is ideally cooked in a large skillet so that the vegetables sit in a single layer to brown equally.

Don’t have a nonstick pan? You don’t need one if you add ingredients to a sizzling hot cast iron or steel pan. Then lower heat to medium and don’t turn the ingredients until they’re browned, when they’ll start to release on their own.

Keep an eye out at yard sales or thrift stores for old cast iron or steel skillets as more healthful, more beautiful, and longer lasting alternatives to nonstick pans. (They’re not cheap if you get them new.)

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed

Slow Cooker Pork Ribs

This recipe is courtesy of The Beeroness. Cook up some Stout & Sriracha Barbecue Sauce to go with these for your next dinner.

Ingredients

2 lbs country-style pork ribs
1/4 c tomato paste
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/3 c brown sugar, packed
12 ounces beer (high ABV dark beer like porter works best)

Slow-Cooked Ribs - BF

Instruction

  1. In a small bowl whisk together everything except the beer.
  2. Add the ribs to the rub and coat. Put the ribs and sauce into a slow cooker and add the beer.
  3. Cook on low for 6-6 hours or until the starts to lightly fall off the bone.
  4. Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce or try Stout & Sriracha Beer barbecue Sauce.
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