Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No-Till Farming

If you look closely at this picture you can spot rows of soybeans sprouting in the remnants of last year's wheat crop. When I saw this I joked with Gary saying, "What's this? Lazy farming?" Then he introduced me to the age-old technique called no-till farming.

"No-till farming, as its name indicates, does away with the mechanical churning of the soil between crops. Rather than being plowed under, agricultural wastes are left on top of the soil, where they decompose more slowly. The intact soil suffers far less erosion, retaining more nutrients. In addition, it holds water more effectively and, with minimal compaction by heavy equipment, is well-aerated. Less tillage of soil reduces labor, fuel, and machinery costs for farmers." (Source: http://earthtrends.wri.org/updates/node/286)

Interesting. Natural. Makes sense.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Roasted Tomato Salsa

With tomato season in full gear why not try making homemade salsa. You will need -

4 large, ripe but still firm tomatoes
3 jalapeno peppers
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 medium red onion, quartered
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Put vegetables on a sheet pan and cook in oven at 500, or on a charcoal or gas gill over medium heat, until nicely charred and blistered, about 30 minutes in oven, less time on grill.

Core, but don't peel the tomatoes. Peel, stem and seed the peppers. Peel the garlic, and remove the skin from the onion.

Puree garlic in food processor; add the onion and pulse a few times. Add tomatoes and peppers and pulse until you achieve the texture you desire.

Pour into a bowl and add cilantro, salt, and pepper. Let sit an hour for flavors to meld and temperature to cool. Serve with chips. Enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

More Pictures from the Farm

These pictures were taken June 20. Peas, peas, and more peas.
Different varieties available now - Pink Eye, Dixie Lee, Six Week, Crowder.  
Coming soon - butternut squash.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Bean season for North Carolina is a short 6-8 weeks and is drawing to a close. So if you haven't had fresh butterbeans this summer, better hurry to your local market. Here's a few tips on cooking summertime beans and peas.

When Mama cooks butterbeans she flavors them with fatback. Chicken broth diluted with water works great, too. But if you're concerned about the sodium and fat content of flavoring the beans with meat products, you can use a vegetable broth. I recommend homemade stock because canned vegetable broth is really high in sodium. Still, another way to flavor butterbeans is to cook them in water, add a little salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of sugar per pint of beans. The sugar adds to the natural sweetness of the bean. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium for about 20-30 minutes. Add a little more water if the broth gets too low so beans don't burn.

C'ya at the market!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Subtle Change 6

Determine to eat more fruits and vegetables, and set yourself up to succeed by stocking up each week with all your favorites. You can never have too much. Leftover veges can be mixed in with soups or casseroles, or frozen; and ripe fruit can be used to make muffins, breads, or cobblers.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grandma's Banana Pudding

If you think Grandma made everything from scratch, think again. To some homemade simply means "made at home". Here is our family's banana pudding recipe, and not only is it mmmm-mmmmm good, but it is easy and fast as well.

Cover the bottom and sides of a casserole dish with vanilla wafers. We like the Nilla brand. Yes, there is a difference! Then slice a couple of bananas and layer on top of wafers. Mix a box of instant Jello vanilla or banana pudding mix according to package directions. Pour mixture into casserole dish. This can be topped with a meringue; 2-3 eggs should suffice. Broil in oven until meringue is lightly browned. Or, cover with cool whip and crushed wafers.

Pudding as good as Grandma used to make!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Did You Say Blanch?

The next best thing to fresh vegetables is frozen. If you plan to freeze vegetables you will need to know about blanching. Blanching is a process in which vegetables are cooked briefly in boiling water, then chilled in ice cold water before freezing. This stops the growth of enzymes which maintains the fresh flavor for freezer preservation. Blanched vegetables will remain fresh for a very long time, even years; but if you plan to eat the vegetables within a few months, you can get away without blanching.

Monday, July 5, 2010

It Tastes Like Summer

I hope you had an opportunity to grill and enjoy some vegetables this 4th of July. Here's a few tips for making it taste like summer.

First, potato salad isn't the same without crowder peas.
Second, must have sliced tomatoes on the side.
Third, a hot dog isn't complete unless it's covered with creamy coleslaw.

To fix the slaw, mix 4 cups chopped fresh, round-head cabbage, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing. Add salt to taste.

Do you have any tips for making it taste like summer? Leave your comments.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Picnic Potato Salad

This is the recipe for my picnic potato salad. It's as easy to prepare as 1, 2, 3, and 4 ingredients plus salt and pepper to taste. I recommend red potatoes because they tend to remain firm as they cook.

4 cups diced red potatoes
3 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing
2 tablespoons sweet relish
salt and pepper to taste

Boil 3 eggs until done. Peel and chop real fine. This way there's no large chunks of egg whites in the salad. Set aside.

Cover potatoes with water and boil for 18-20 minutes. Potatoes should be done, yet still firm. Drain water from potatoes. Add eggs, salad dressing, relish, salt, and pepper and mix together.

Mama likes to add 2-3 tablespoons chopped onions. Again, chop it real fine so there's no large chunks of onions in the salad.

Yields 4-6 servings and can be served hot or cold.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Creamy Corn Pudding

We love, love, love creamy corn pudding, and it is so easy to make.

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2-2 1/4 cups fresh cut corn - If you don't have fresh corn, substitute canned corn.
2 eggs

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour, sugar, and salt. Stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly so mixture doesn't stick. Gradually add milk. Continue stirring and cooking until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat, and stir in corn.

In separate bowl beat eggs well. Gradually stir about 1/4 of hot mixture into beaten eggs. Then add to remaining hot mixture, stirring constantly.

Pour into a greased casserole. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

If you are an okra fan, you can add pods of whole okra that have been steamed about 5-7 minutes until tender but still firm. Then, cut into 1/2-inch slices, and season with a little salt and pepper. The okra is added to the mixture just before pouring into the casserole dish.

Serve and enjoy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Let's Talk Okra

This picture was taken on June 20 just when the okra pods were beginning to bud. The okra is now being cut three days a week with daily deliveries to the market. The growing season will last into August.

Okra is a family favorite and easy to cook. Breaded in corn meal, okra can either be baked or fried southern style. Okra is a great companion to tomatoes, corn, onions, and peppers, making it a yummy addition to soups and ratatouille. The broth from boiled okra can be strained and used as a cooking broth for beans. Okra is fairly easy to pickle and is tasty with pork or beef barbecue.

When shopping for okra look for a good green color. The lighter the green, the fresher the okra. Small pods (2-3 inches) are more tender. Okra will have a scratchy texture, but should not look shriveled. When stored in the refrigerator okra will stay fresh for several days. Tomorrow I'll post a recipe for corn pudding with okra.