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Archive for June, 2009

 

DSCN1690Today I took a partial bushel basket of rosemary, sage, oregano, and sweet basil to trade at the market.  I got in exchange a large, ripe cantaloupe and a quart basket each of small yellow squash and medium and small cucumbers.  We’ve got lots of our own fresh tomatoes, chile peppers, and onions, so I’ll be making gazpacho this week.  I’ll post my recipe (or as close to a recipe as I ever come!) after I make the gazpacho. 

The great thing about market bartering is that we go farmer to farm stand with as little between the producer and consumer as possible.  We know we might be able to get a better price for our herbs per ounce if we went big, but that prospect also would most likely not be sustainable.  This way works just fine for us.  And as I understand it, since we have no net gain from the exchange, the transaction should incur no tax liability.  On the other hand, if the farm stand sells the herbs at considerable profit, then the farm stand might incur tax liability.

Please let me know in the comments section if you do market bartering with your produce, eggs, etc. or if you barter services for homegrown produce.

Text and photograph copyright Ozark Homesteader 2009.  All rights reserved.  I welcome your re-printing excerpts of this and other posts, but please make sure that you copy only excerpts, that the source is prominently displayed, and that you include a full URL, not just a link.  Thank you!
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Temperatures have been pushing 100 degrees F in the Ozarks for the past week, and every meal I’ve planned has needed to be nutritious but cooling.  One night, I made a “fresh Mex” meal using good stuff we had on hand, like corn, serrano pepper, watermelon, tomatoes, peaches, and cucumber.  I started by making my own “Cool as a Cucumber” Soup.  Then I assembled a cold corn-bean-peach salad.  I also cut some greens and grilled some chicken and chicken chorizo (in the air conditioning!).  The final refreshing component of the meal was a Melon-rita.  Recipes follow.  So do pictures—please pardon the blur and exposure.  I’d say the flaws were due to the Melon-Ritas, but I hadn’t had any yet when I took the pictures.

Cool as a Cucumber Soup

This soup requires no cooking at all.  Nope, none.

Ozark Homesteader's Cool-As-A-Cucumber Soup

Ozark Homesteader's Cool-As-A-Cucumber Soup

Makes 2 cup-sized servings

½ good-sized pickling cucumber (no wax!)

bunch of garlic chives

sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt (use what you have!  I like a combination)

chicken broth for thinning, if needed

pinch of good ranch mix, like Simply Organic

salt and pepper to taste

Chop the cucumber and garlic chives roughly and then place them in a blender cup (not the whole blender for this size recipe).  Add sour cream, buttermilk, and/or yogurt to the fill line (about 1 to 1 ½ cups).  Add in the pinch of powdered ranch mix or your own seasonings.  Puree.  Taste.  If you think the soup is too thick, dilute it with  a little chicken broth.  I did not find this step necessary. Add salt and pepper as you like.  Puree again.  Refrigerate until time for supper.

Corn-Bean-Peach Salad

Corn-Bean-Peach Salad

Corn-Bean-Peach Salad

Serves 4

two fresh ears sweet corn

½ can unseasoned beans (black, kidney:  use what you have!)

½ sweet yellow onion

1 medium tomato, skin on if you are eating homegrown organic

1 fresh, sweet peach

1-2 hot peppers (serrano, jalapeno)

1 grated carrot (if you have a fresh carrot)

½ bell pepper

small bunch of cilantro (substitute parsley if you don’t like cilantro)

one stem fresh oregano, leaves only

olive oil and vinegar, no more than 1 Tablespoon each

Roast the corn.  I wrapped mine in aluminum foil and baked it for about 20 minutes.)

Meanwhile drain and rinse the beans, clean and chop the onion, peach, tomato, and peppers.  Chop the cilantro and oregano with the onion and try to get all three very fine.  I use one of those chop wizard things for this task. Once the corn has cooled, cut it off the cob.  Begin by making medium cuts down the cob.  Then go back and scrap the cob.  Toss everything together and put it in the fridge for at least two hours.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh-Mex Salad

Begin with a bed of good greens—sturdy lettuce if you have it or another green like chard.  Top with grilled sweet onions sauteed with chicken breast and chicken choriza.

Chicken breast, chicken chorizo, and onions

Chicken breast, chicken chorizo, and onions

Pile on the Corn-Bean-Peach salad.  Add guacamole, good ranch dressing, tortilla chips, or nothing at all.  Eat!

Fresh-Mex Meal

Fresh-Mex Meal

Melon-Rita

Get out that blender again, but this time we’re going to use the big jar.  Start with about a quarter cup each triple sec, tequila, and good lime juice.  Add chunks of watermelon to the fill line.  Yes, this will be about ½ a bambino watermelon.  Blend until smooth.  Taste.  Adjust to your likes, remembering that your sweet is coming from the Triple Sec.  Refrigerate until you are ready to drink.  Serve over ice.  Freeze leftovers, and you’ll have a great watermelon-rita slushy.

Meat and Three

By the way, this meal is another example of the Southern classic “meat and three,” which provides great protein and nutrition with meat as a flavoring, not the main focus of the dish.  You could even leave out the meat altogether and still meet your nutritional needs.  Southerners ate this way because they often did not have fresh meat and it was a frugal way to stay healthy.

All rights reserved.  If you want to reproduce one of the recipes on this page on your own web site, please use only an excerpt.  I require that you include not only a link to the web site but the full URL in the text.  Thank you!

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Today the much-lauded, much-criticized Chevy Volt hit the road.  The Volt is an“extended range” battery vehicle that uses the battery for about 40 miles and then switches to gas.  The vehicle is something new for Chevrolet, but I doubt if it will help revive Chevy from the brink of death.  No, the problem I see is not the technology; I’m not an engineer, so I really can’t speak to that.  It’s the price tag.  I’ve read everything from about $40,000 to $45,000 and up.  A few years ago, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich gave a commentary on NPR on what he called the “$64,000 Question,” referring to the old game show as well as the words of Hank Paulson, Secretary of Treasury.  You can read an abbreviated version here on Reich’s blog.  In essence, Reich was pointing out that, had most Americans participated in the Bush recovery (yes, there was one, although that fact was easy for most of us to miss) as they had in past recoveries, the median family income would be about $64000 instead of the $45000 (or $41000 depending on which source you read).  How does this relate to the Volt?  More than half of American families make less in a year than the base cost of a Volt.  A considerable number of families make at or just above the cost of the Volt in a whole year, before taxes.  For whom is Chevy building the Volt?  As it stands, Chevy needs to remember that the American public can afford the original Saturn  S line better than it can a Volt.  Anything over $40,000 is out of reach; $20,000 (like the Prius and Insight) would be much more affordable.  And if we don’t take steps to reduce executive pay to share the wealth created by hard-working Americans, even the latter vehicles will be out of reach.

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I think I discovered chard about twenty years ago, most likely at the Willy Street Co-op in Madison, Wisconsin.  I read somewhere (maybe right there in the co-op!) that chard could substitute for spinach in warmer weather.  The stems I picked up were huge, and I think I sauteed them.  They were tasty, and I still like chard that way.  That’s not among the main reasons why I grow chard.  I grow it because it is phenomenally reliable, beautiful, and versatile.  It also happens to be incredibly nutritious.

 

Ozarkhomesteader's Chard in the Garden

Ozarkhomesteader's Chard in the Garden

 

 

Growing Chard

I buy my chard seed from two of my favorite seed sources:  Botanical Interests and Renee’s Garden.  Botanical Interests has a great value pack of  Ruby Chard.  You can find other varieties hereScroll to the bottom of the page to see the chard.  Renee’s Garden has several superb varieties too, including a container variety called Pot of Gold.  In the Ozarks, chard will grow both summer and winter.  If it freezes, it will generally grow back, or you can do like I do and grow it under plastic or glass.  In the summer, chard will wilt in hot, dry weather, but it will recover quickly.  To prepare your garden for chard, loosen the soil and mix in good organic matter.  Now add a bit of lime.  Chard, like its cousin beets, does not like acidic soil.  Your next step is to soak your chard seed overnight.  Again like beets, chard “seed” are actually a pod with several seed clustered inside.  Soaking overnight will soften the pod and help the seeds germinate.  Plant about one inch apart and ½ inch deep.  In about 30 days, you’ll have tender baby chard for greens.  Keep your chard cut well, always leaving at least one leaf, and it will continue to produce and produce.

Aesthetic Qualities

Chard is, simply put, beautiful.  Its rich green leaves with bright red, pink, and gold ribs make it an easy-to-maintain border at which even stuffy homeowners’ associations won’t turn up their noses.  Yes, you can grow chard to eat but make your neighbors think you’re just beautifying the neighborhood.

Versatility

Chard can be eaten at all stages and sizes.  Even when the leaves reach giant size, you can still tear them up to make a nice salad.  You can saute them, stuff them, eat them raw, put them on pizza, use them for spanakopita:  the possibilities are so varied I can only start discussing them here.

Good for You

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=16

Even boiled, Swiss chard has 716% of your daily requirements of Vitamin K and almost 110% of the RDA of Vitamin A.  It is also high in Vitamin Cs and Es.  It has Vitamins B1,2, 3, 5 and 6 as well as 6.6% of the RDA of protein.

Why does chard wilt in the garden?

If your swiss chard is wilting in the summer sun and you see no signs of disease, it is not getting enough water.  Yep, it’s been pushing 100 degrees here for the past week, getting closer and closer to that mark every day, but my chard still isn’t wilting.  If your chard does wilt in the heat, give it a little drink.  It’s also best if you cut it first thing in the morning and then immediately wash it, spin it mostly dry, and put it in the fridge in a sealed container.  It should be peppy by suppertime.

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Vichyssoise?  on a homestead?  Vichyssoise is a perfect soup for the hot days of an Arkansas summer, but the original chilled soup is a bit too wasteful for me.  Vichyssoise is ordinarily a creamy white color, brought on by using just the whites of leeks and peeled potatoes.  This soup is more rustic and much more frugal, because it leaves the potato peels on and incorporates the green as well as white of the leek.  The result is a richer, tastier but also more colorful soup. DSCN1561

It is also really, really easy to make.  You just need to remember to start it early in the day or (even the night before) to let it cool.  And, yes, with milk or cream and bacon crumbles and cheese instead of the yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream, you’ll have a tasty warm winter soup.

This recipe serves four.  As always, measurements are approximate; use what you have!

One large leek

one two-handed handful of new red potatoes—about eight or nine small ones  (yes, these were the bartered potatoes I wrote about here: https://ozarkhomesteader.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/farm-stand-market-bartering/

a carrot or two

pat of butter or about ½ T oil  (Yes, I really mean use butter.  If it’s organic, it contains good Omega-3 oils.)

water and/or chicken broth

½ cup to ¾ cup sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk (whatever you have on hand)

Begin by cleaning the leek.  Slice it in half lengthwise and separate the leaves to reveal any embedded dirt.  Then slice the green portions thinly.  Set aside the  white part.  Now wash and dice the equivalent of one or two medium-sized carrots.  If you have some misshapen carrots, this is a great time to use them, since they are first diced and then  pureed.   Next wash and dice all but three of the new potatoes. 

No, don’t peel the veggies!  That’s good stuff!  Are you trying to bankrupt yourself?

Put the leek greens in an 8-inch Dutch oven (or any heavy-bottomed pot if you haven’t become dedicated to cast iron yet) lightly coated with butter or oil.  Saute the leeks until they start to soften, and then add the diced carrots and diced potatoes.  Stir them to coat with butter or oil and saute a couple of minutes.  Add enough water to cover.  Yes, you may use broth here, but with the carrot and leeks, you really don’t need it.  Now cover the pot and walk away for about twenty or thirty minutes while it simmers.  Then turn the pot off to let it cool.

While you wait, thinly slice the remaining leek white and the three reserved red new potatoes.  Nope, don’t put them in yet!

Walk in the garden.  Go weed a little.  Pick salad greens.  Drink a glass of lemonade or wine.  Now go back and dump your cooled diced, cooked veggies in a blender, food processor, or, if you’re a Luddite like I can be, your food mill.  I prefer using a food processor or blender for this recipe because the food mill will retain too much or the potato peel.  Add a little sour cream, milk, or buttermilk if you need it to get the mixture going, anywhere from ½ cup to ¾ cup.  Process the mixture to a smooth, creamy blend.  Now set the blended mixture aside.

In the Dutch oven you already used, add a little more butter or oil, toss in the reserved sliced leek and potatoes, and stir to coat.  Cover and cook on low heat for about fifteen to twenty minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked.  Taste them!  If the potatoes no longer taste raw, the leeks will be cooked too.

Add the sliced vegetables to the pureed mix and refrigerate until you are ready to eat them.  Serve by dishing out the sliced veggies first and then adding on the pureed mixture.

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This morning my husband and I cut some overgrown herbs to trade at the nearest farm stand.  Here’s what we got in trade for what was, in essence, prunings:

Trade for herb pruningAre you wondering why we are buying squash in June?  We were out of town for two weeks and have squash bug problems, so I waited to plant squash until we were back.  Meanwhile, we can enjoy our neighbors’ squash through bartering.  The onions are Vidalias from Georgia.  No, we cannot grow them as sweet here.  I generally don’t grow potatoes because they are so inexpensive yet take up a fair amount of space.

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I know what you’re thinking:  heavenly turnips?  Remember from my earlier post that turnips can be sweet if young and freshly picked:

https://ozarkhomesteader.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/hello-world/

Now take freshly picked turnips, slice thinly, and blanch.  Meanwhile, thinly slice a sweet onion too.  (Use about one fourth the onion that you do the turnip.)  Saute it in a heavy saucepan until it just barely starts to caramelize.  Add cream, natural sour cream, and up to three kinds of cheeses (I used a local cheddar, parmesan, and a mild blue cheese) and still until well melted.  In a small casserole, layer the turnips with sliced turkey ham and the cream mixture until all of the ingredients are used.  Bake uncovered to let liquid reduce.  Ahhhhhhhhhh:  heavenly turnips!

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