Sunday, August 31, 2008

Veggies...what are they good for?


The cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitacea, which includes squash, and in the same genus as the muskmelon. Though it technically is a fruit, cucumbers are widely considered vegetables. (

Stir Fried Cucumbers

· 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
· 2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
· 4 green onions, sliced
· 1 sweet red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
· 2 small tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
· ½ teaspoon salt
· 1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a large wok or skillet heat one tablespoon oil. Stir fry cucumbers about 2 minutes and remove from wok. Add more oil if necessary. Stir fry green onions and red pepper for 3 minutes. Remove from wok. Add more oil. Stir fry tomatoes one minute then add cucumbers, peppers and onions. Mix well and heath through. Season. (Practical Produce Cookbook, p. 90)

Cucumber Yogurt Dip

· 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
· 1 teaspoon sea salt
· 1 cup whole yogurt
· 2 cloves garlic, crushed
· 1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped
· 1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped
· 1 tablespoon lemon juice
· ¼ teaspoon pepper
· Pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt chopped cucumber and let stand in a colander about 1 hour. Mix other ingredients together and stir in cucumber. (Nourishing Traditions, pg. 173)

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's a Coup!

Sadly, when we walked through the winter squash field this morning, it was clear that the squash beetle army had invaded. It appears they have won.

Colchester is committed to pesticide-free farming practices. This means that aside from picking the bugs off by hand or covering the crops with row cover, there is not a lot that we can do about an infestation.

As I looked at our squash field, I thought about what it might have been like before the CSA model of agriculture. What if I was a farmer simply trying to provide for my family and I went out into the field only to discover that the bugs had taken another crop. Would that be enough incentive for me to begin to use pesticides. Is there a compromise?

According to there is.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

The IPM approach can be applied to both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, such as the home, garden, and workplace. IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides. In contrast, organic food production applies many of the same concepts as IPM but limits the use of pesticides to those that are produced from natural sources, as opposed to synthetic chemicals.

When I go to plant my own vegetable garden this fall, I will have to think strongly about my beliefs and whether or not I think that I can make responsible decisions about when and if I want to use pesticides.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Chill in the Air

One way that I can tell that fall is on the way is the chilly mornings that we have been waking up to. Another sure sign is that the turkeys are starting to more like turkeys. They have moved past the unfortunate adolescent stage and are well on their way to the Thanksgiving table. I am looking forward to cooking and eating a meal that I helped produce this Thanksgiving. Knowing where all the food on my table comes from is really something to celebrate.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Making It Possible

Colchester is committed to making fresh, pesticide-free vegetables available to anyone who is interested. We offer ‘working shares’; for 10 hours of work a month members earned a small share, for 15 hours they got a medium share, and for 20 hours a month a large share.(

Another way to earn a 'work share' is to pick up box shares at the Farm and deliver them to 10 or more families in your neighborhood. On harvest days we put together box shares, with the vegetables chosen and packed at the Farm, for delivery. In exchange for the delivery, members earn a small share.

For more information please contact us at or call:Theresa Mycek, CSA Manager, at 410-648-5609Mailing Address: P.O. Box 191, Georgetown, MD 21930Physical Address: 31285 Georgetown Cemetery Road in Georgetown.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Veggies...what are they good for?

Edamame (Green Soybeans)

The soybean (U.S.) or soya bean (UK) (Glycine max) is a species of legume native to East Asia. [Also known as edamame] It is an annual plant that has been used in China for 5,000 years as a food and a component of drugs. Soy contains significant amounts of all the essential amino acids for humans, and so is a good source of protein. Soybeans are the primary ingredient in many processed foods, including dairy product substitutes.

Spiced Edamame

· 2 teaspoons kosher salt
· 1 teaspoon chili powder
· 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
· 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
· 1-pound edamame, in the pod (green soy beans)

Heat the salt, chili powder, and pepper flakes in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring until hot and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and crumble in the oregano.

Boil the edamame pods in salted water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander and pat dry. Toss the edamame pods with the chili-salt and serve warm.

Pasta with Broccoli, Edamame & Walnuts

· ¾ pound chunky pasta
· ¼ cup olive oil
· 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
· 3 cups bite-sized pieces of broccoli
· 1 cup shelled edamame
· ¾ teaspoon salt
· ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
· 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
· Salt and pepper
· Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Bring a large covered pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, warm 2 tablespoon s of the olive oil in a large skilled on low heat. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds. Add the broccoli with about ½ cup of the hot pasta-cooking water, turn the heat to high and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the edamame, salt, and herbs. Continue to cool until the water evaporates and the broccoli is crisp-tender and bright green, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.

When the pasta is done, drain it. In a serving bowl, toss the pasta with the vegetable mixture, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the toasted chopped walnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with grated cheese. (Moosewood Restaurant: Simple Suppers, p.22)

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Rainbow of Nutrition

One of the reasons that you are supposed to eat an array of colors is that it ensures your getting an adequate supply of phytochemicals. According to

Phytochemicals are non-nutritive plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties. There are more than thousand known phytochemicals. It is well-known that plant produce these chemicals to protect itself but recent research demonstrate that they can protect humans against diseases. Some of the well-known phytochemicals are lycopene in tomatoes, isoflavones in soy and flavanoids in fruits. They are not essential nutrients and are not required by the human body for sustaining life.

With the ever changing information regarding good nutrition, I don't know if any of that will turn out to be true or not, but just looking at the rainbow of peppers makes me hungry.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


One way that we try to get members out to the farm is by hosting monthly potluck dinners. This is a great way for us to get to know our members and for members to meet each other. It is also a good time for kids to run around and play. I missed this month's potluck, but, when I got in on Monday, there were some clues that little people had been around. I wonder what kind of farming teddy likes to do?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Veggies...what are they good for?

Bell Peppers

Bell pepper is a cultivar group of the species Caspsicum anuum Cultivars of the plant produce peppercorns which develop into fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, green and orange. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as "sweet peppers". Peppers are native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Pepper seeds were later carried to Spain in 1493 and from there spread to other European and Asian countries. Today, Mexico remains one of the major pepper producers in the world.

Green Pepper Tomato Salad

· 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
· 1 medium green pepper, chopped
· 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
· 1/2 cup chopped red onion
· 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
· 1 tablespoon sugar
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, green pepper, celery and onion. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir into tomato mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, stirring several times. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Basil Quinoa with Red Bell Pepper

· 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
· 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
· 2 tablespoons lemon juice
· 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
· 4 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons minced)
· 2 cups cooked quinoa*
· 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
· 1/2 cup sliced green onions
· Kosher salt
· Freshly ground black pepper
· 1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups water to boiling. In a small bowl, combine cold water and ice cubes to make an ice bath. Add the basil to the boiling water; stir once and drain immediately. Place basil in the ice bath to cool quickly. Gently squeeze out any excess water.

Place basil in a food processor. Add Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Cover and process until nearly smooth.

In a medium bowl, stir together cooked quinoa, bell pepper, and green onions. Add basil mixture; stir to coat. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. (

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Unexpected Surprises

After a long morning harvesting tomatoes in the hot, hot August sun we came across a bird's nest. The babies seemed undisturbed by the tomato picking going on all around them. Sometimes it is the little things, literally, that make it all seem worthwhile.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

It never occurred to me how many of our laying hens we would lose to predation. A pair of immature Bald Eagles has taken up residence in one of the trees behind the hen house. This week we lost several more chickens to the young birds (who, by the way, are quite camera shy). Bald Eagles are on the endangered species list, so it is still nice to see this pair thriving despite our losses.

Pesticide poisoning, specifically DDT, was responsible for the deaths of many Eagles. Thanks to conservation efforts, their numbers are increasing and it has been proposed that they should be removed from the endangered species list. (

I will say this, the ladies are not to happy with me right now. For the last few days after I have fed them, I have had to leave them in the coop. We are hoping that the Eagles will take the hint that chicken is off the menu and move on.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Veggies...what are they good for?


Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thumb) Matsum & Nakai, family Cucurbitaceae) refers to both fruit and plant of a vine-like (climber and trailer) herb originally from southern Africa and one of the most common types of melon. This flowering plant produces a special type of fruit known by botanists as a pepo, which has a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarp and endocarp); pepos are derived from an inferior ovary and are characteristic of the Cucurbitaceae. The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon (although not in the genus Cusumis), has a smooth exterior rind (green and yellow) and a juicy, sweet, usually pink, red, or yellow, but sometimes orange, interior flesh. The flesh consists of highly developed placental tissue within the fruit. (

Chilled Watermelon Soup

  • 6 pounds yellow or red seedless watermelon, diced (9 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup lightly sweet white wine (such as Riesling) or 3/4 cup water mixed with 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 8 teaspoons crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup sparkling wine (or sparkling water)
Combine 1 cup of the watermelon with mint and sugar in a bowl. Set aside. Blend remaining 8 cups watermelon, lemon juice, wine, and ginger in a blender until smooth. Let sit 1/2 hour. Strain soup; divide among 8 bowls. Top each with 1/8 cup reserved watermelon and 1 teaspoon feta.(

Watermelon Salsa

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 cups chopped seeded watermelon
  • 1 cup chopped seeded honeydew melon or cantaloupe
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeƱo chilies
Whisk lime juice and sugar in large bowl until sugar dissolves. Add watermelon and all remaining ingredients; toss gently. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and chill.) (

Friday, August 8, 2008

Fingers or Thumbs?

They are called fingerlings for a reason, but maybe they should be called thumbkins. Today when we were harvesting poatoes, I was really digging into the soil and getting my hands dirty. I looked down and spied a large fingerling potato. I went to grab it, but oops, it wasn't a potato. It was my thumb!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

To Can or Not to Can?

Sometimes it feels as if I am eating tomatoes morning noon and night. First we didn’t have that many tomatoes, but now we have more than we can eat. The question then becomes, what do you do with all these tomatoes?

Today Theresa suggested that we spend the afternoon canning tomatoes. We used about four boxes of tomatoes to make seven quarts of tomatoes. I am looking forward to making chili with my tomatoes in the fall.

Basic Canning - Tomatoes
Have all the needed utensils handy Wash jars, rings, and lids in hot sudsy water. Rinse. Place the jars in hot water and leave them there until needed. Place the lids in a pan and let them simmer for a few minutes, then remove them from the heat and let them stand in the hot water until needed. Pick ripe but firm, unblemished tomatoes, enough for one canner load. Wash the tomatoes. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove the skins, the core, and any unsightly spots. Pack the hot tomatoes into the jars, trying not to crush them. Leave about half an inch of head space, add about a teaspoon of salt to each quart jar, and half a teaspoon to each pint jar (salt acts as a preservative). Run a non-metallic spatula around the inside of the jar to remove air bubbles. Clean the threads of the jar with a clean damp cloth. Remove a lid from the hot water and place flat on top of the jar. Screw in the ring, making sure it's tight and firm. Stand each full jar on the rack inside the water-bath canner, in hot (not boiling) water. The water should stand 1 to 2 inches above the jars. Add more hot water if needed. Cover the canner with its lid, and bring water to a boil. Process quarts for 45 minutes, and pints for 40 minutes at a gentle, steady boil (refer to altitude charts if you live above 1,000 feet). Remove the jars from the canner and set on a folded bath towel. Place each jar apart from the others, and cover them with another towel. Allow them to cool for 12 hours, then remove the rings and check to see the jars are indeed sealed (the lid should curve inwards a bit). Wash the outside of the jars, dry, and store jars in a cool, dark, dry place. You're done!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tomatoes R Us

One thing that I have noticed about tomatoes is that they all seem to ripen on the same day. This year we are growing several kinds of heirloom tomatoes, Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Goldie, Pineapple and Pruden’s Purple. Like raising heirloom breed birds, growing heirloom vegetables increases the genetic diversity in our food crops.

Heirloom tomatoes are not grown for grocery stores because the do not store or ship well. Their thick flesh bruises easily and they are often not uniform in appearance. Though they may not be beauty queens they sure do make up for it in flavor.

One of the favorites in my house is Goldie. This yellow tomato is lower in acid content than some of the red tomatoes. You get all the tomato flavor minus some of the heartburn. I’m sold! You can view and shop for other heirloom varities at

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Veggies...what are they good for?


A spring onion, also commonly known as scallion, green onion or salad onion, is associated with various members of the genus Allium that lack a fully-developed bulb. They tend to be milder tasting than other onions and are typically steamed and set in salads in western cookery and cooked in many Asian recipes. Diced scallions are often used in soup, noodle and seafood dishes, and in sauces in eastern dishes, after removing the bottom quarter-inch or so of the root end. (

Jasmine Rice with Peanuts and Scallions
  • 2 cups jasmine rice (13 oz)
  • 2 cups water1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup thinly sliced scallion greens
Wash rice in several changes of cold water in a bowl until water is almost clear, then drain rice well in a sieve. Bring rice, water, and broth to a boil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender and water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then stir in peanuts and scallion greens. (

Lemon Tabouli with Tender Romaine
  • 1/2 cup fine grain #1 bulgur
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups finely diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 pinches of ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons slivered fresh mint leaves
  • Tender romaine leaves
1. Place the bulgur in a fine sieve, rinse under cold running water, squeeze dry, and soak in the lemon juice for 45 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the bulgur.

2. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, scallions, cinnamon, and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Drizzle on the olive oil and toss. Fold in the bulgur, parsley, and mint and mix well. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally.

3. Taste and correct the flavors with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve with crisp inner leaves of romaine lettuce for scooping up the salad. (

Friday, August 1, 2008

It’s All Connected

Back and fingers aching I return home at the end of the day. My host family knows better than to ask me what my day was like. I walk by a little stooped over. I only have one thing to say, “Thistle.”

This year Colchester’s fields have been particularly filled with thistle, and as we have dug it out with shovels and picked it out by hand, we have cursed this nasty little weed. “Why? Why? What have we done to deserve this?” we ask Theresa. The answer to that question is a little more complicated than you would think.

Like this year, there wasn’t much rain last year. According to Renee Brooks Catacalos in her article A Honey Fanatic, “…last year’s drought was particularly bad for nectar source plants,” (Edible Chesapeake, Summer 2008). This meant that honey bees and other pollinators had to look beyond their normal sources for nectar, and they turned to thistle.
The resulting overpopulation of thistle in our fields may in large part be due to honeybees focusing their attention on our thistle during the drought.

At least now when I am digging Thistle, I console myself by thinking about my Saturday reward of honey on my toast.