Vegetable Soup 

img_3086So, now that the weather is cooling down soup can be added to your menu planning rotation!  That’s great for me because I love soup.  On a cool crisp day, after being outside with your kids, or your animals, or even alone with nature it feels so satisfying to sit down to a steamy bowl of hearty soup.  As with most of my recipes, this is a guide to give you ideas and not a strict formula for soup success.  Although, with soup how could one go wrong?  Well, even though it’s hard to mess up soup, if you don’t add any salt, sometimes people complain, lol!  So, let me qualify…as long as it’s seasoned adequately, it’s hard to mess up soup.

This is a great way to use whatever is in season and whatever you have on hand.  In my bowl I used tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, onions and kale.  Oh, yeah…KALE!  It’s still a very fashionable vegetable and can boost your leafy green intake at any meal.  When chopped up small and cooked in the soup, the leaves just melt in your mouth.  I also added some rice to this vegetable soup to thicken it and make it more substantial for a stand alone meal.  You can start with a vegetable broth or just plain water, toss in your chopped vegetables and your dry rice.  Then bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender and the rice is nice and soft.  Then it’s time to add your favorite herbs (dry or fresh) and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for another 5 minutes or so and then remove from the heat.

This soup features onions, carrots and kale from my Sage Mountain Farm CSA box, however you can use just about any veggie from our farm to create a delicious and satisfying soup for your Autumn enjoyment!

Chopped Caprese 

These Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, tucked inside my CSA box,  were the inspiration for today’s post.  I love little tiny tomatoes, and these ones deliver huge flavor in a vibrant, exciting color.  

One of the best ways to highlight the flavor and texture of a great tomato is a simple Caprese salad.  Usually a larger tomato is used, one similar in size to a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, but this time we are going to make a chopped Caprese so that we can utilize these cherry tomatoes and feature their awesome flavor in a more accessible and portable way!img_2806
In this recipe you also get to enjoy the aromatic goodness of fresh organically grown basil from Sage Mountain Farm.  I think that the smell of basil is the perfect smell of summer.  If you love basil check out our Strawberry Basil Lemonade!  it’s great for a change from the traditional.

Speaking of breaking with tradition, this salad not only is chopped, but it also uses firm tofu instead of mozzarella cheese.  Now if you are a purist, please use the cheese, but if you’re up for something different or just prefer to keep dairy at arm’s length, then read on farm blog followers…

I followed the method for “curing” the tofu from the Vegan Caprese Salad recipe on the Whole Foods Website.  So to deal with your tofu, please visit that link and then come back here to continue.  A note: the Whole Foods recipe calls for white balsamic, and I used regular (you know, the dark-brown-almost-black-deliciousness that can be used on many treats, both savory and sweet).

So once you have your tofu (or mozzarella if you really couldn’t help yourself, lol) ready, then simply cube it up into pieces roughly similar to the size of the cherry tomatoes when halved.

Halve your cherry tomatoes, all of them that are left after snacking on them straight from the container…yes, I saw you eat them…

Pull basil leaves off their stems until you are tired of doing it, or you’ve got a big ‘ole pile.  Stack several leaves together then roll ’em up like a tiny log.  Use a knife to slice them narrowly into strips, it’s called chiffonade, or simply give them a good choppy-chop.

Toss all of the components in a big bowl; halved tomatoes, cured tofu cubes, and chopped or “chiffonaded” basil.  Then I added salt and pepper to taste and a little more balsamic love, also to taste.

Stir, serve, eat!

This can be a great picinic/potluck bring along item and it staysjust fine in the fridge overnight.  Caution, while awesomely delicious, if left for more than a day in the fridge the basil begins to oxidize and will not be vibrantly green.  Nothing to worry about though, because it never lasts that long anyhow…

Yes, it’s that good.

Swimming Cucumbers

This is a family recipe for refrigerator pickles that, in my family, we like to call “swimming cucumbers”.  It is simple and basic, but the tartness from the vinegar and the chilled cucumbery goodness are so refreshing in the heat of summer.  I can remember eating these all the time when I was a kid, and now with fresh organic cucumbers from Sage Mountain Farm, I make them for my kids and they love ’em as much as I did.

Start by washing the cucumbers and slicing the ends off.  Then using a vegetable peeler, I like to give my cucumbers some stripes.  I peel a strip of skin from one end to the other and then I rotate the cucumber before peeling another strip (leaving alternating strips of skin on and skin off).  This is just personal preference.  My kids would prefer not to have any skin on and, as a mom I would prefer them to eat the skins.  So we have found a happy medium with striped cucumber rounds, everybody’s happy.  Do what you like here…but, fair warning, stripes are fun!

Next slice the cucumbers into rounds about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick, depending on your preference.  Also, if you like you can make these into half rounds.  Whatever floats yer boat!

Put all of your slices into a lidded container that has a bit of extra room for liquid.  Using a mixture of equal parts water and apple cider vinegar, cover all of the cucumbers.  Finally sprinkle the top of the liquid with a generous amount of fresh cracked black pepper, course grind works best.  Place the lid on the container and tuck these babies away overnight in the fridge.  Next day, enjoy!

For another tasty summer treat, revisit this recipe from last summer- Strawberry Basil Lemonade!

Give us a comment below if you tried either of these recipes!  We’d love to have a conversation with you!

 

3-2-1 Pinto Beans

Hey everyone!  I want to share with you today one of the recipies that I make at least once a week, if not twice.  This is how I make my pinto beans.  A lot of people ask for this recipe, so here it is!

Ingredients:

3 cups dried pinto beans, soaked overnight

3 dried chiles de arbol (or chile japones), with the stems picked off

3 Tablespoons of dried chopped onion, or a 10 oz bag of frozen diced onion or 1 medium onion chopped (This is a great place to use some fresh organic onions from your CSA box)

2 Tablespoons of dried ground cumin

img_2761

2 in square of Kombu seaweed (this one is totally optional.  I recently started adding this to help with the digestibility of the beans, it breaks down mostly while cooking and can be scooped out at the end, or blended into the beans, it really doesn’t change the flavor of the finished beans.)

1 Tablespoon of granulated garlic, alternately you can ad fresh minced garlic from your CSA box!

1 Tablespoon of salt

 

Method:

Soak beans overnight, then rinse them well.  Place rinsed and soaked beans into your pressure cookimg_2758er and add the rest of the ingredients.  I like to break my dried chiles into smaller pieces because I img_2763blend them into my beans.  If you want the flavor of the chiles but not too much spice, then leave the chiles whole and discard after cooking, before blending.

img_2764Fill
your pot to 1 inch above the beans.  This will give you an excess of liquid, but more is better, and as you will see it is possible to ladle out the extra water before blending the beans.

Use either the bean or the manual setting on your img_2765pressure cooker and adjust the time up to 45 minutes.  Make sure it is on high pressure and that the steam valve is closed for pressure cooking.

While you wait, this is a great time to chop some onion and cilantro, hit that with a little squeeze of lime juice and salt…heaven on a taco!

When the time has come to open your pressure cooker (I would let the pressure come down on it’s own rather than a rapid release because beans create a lot of foam while cooking and it is a total disaster, I know this from first hand experience…more than once…) you will fill your home with a delicious smell that will make you hungry!

Now is decision time.  Whole beans or “re-fried” aka blended?  Spicy or mild?  If your goal is spicy and whole, do nothing.  Use a slotted spoon and serve these bad boys on a tortilla, or over chips.

If your goal is a “re-fried” bean analog (only healthy because they are made without oil), then you need to either remove the chiles or not based on your heat preference.  Then you will need to ladle out as much water as you can without becoming OCD about it! img_2766 Seriously, if the beans are a bit runny the first night, while they are refrigerated overnight they will soak up some of that extra liquid and become firmer the next day.  This is really personal preference.

img_2767I use an immersion blender for this step.  You could use a fork, a potato masher, or a blender if you like…or see the instructions for whole beans above!  Blend or mash until the beans look like the right consistency to you.  Some people like ’em totally mashed and others like to see some whole and partial beans in the mix.  It’s totally up to you!

 

Voila!  Beans, done.  If you give this recipe a try, let me know in the comments below.  Tacos and nachos and even enchiladas are a great way to feature some of the great produce and meats that we have here at Sage Mountain Farm!

P.S. If pressure cooking isn’t your bag, these beans can also be done in a crock pot on high for most of the day, or even on the stove (if you don’t mind the heat in the middle of summer, ugh!).

 

Summer’s a-Comin’!

Summer’s coming everyone!  Are you gonna to be grillin’ burgers?  I’ll bet you are!  The real question is what kind of beef will you be serving your friends and family this grilling season; mystery meat from the supermarket…or Sustainable Green-fed beef from a local farmer you can trust?

Here at Sage Mountain Farm we have delicious beef that is priced reasonably so that you can feel great about the quality and sustainability of the burgers that will be on offer at your next cook out.  Our cows graze on grass and are fed organic vegetables, all the while being raised without hormones or antibiotics.  You can become a Green-Fed Beef CSA subscriber for 5, 10 or 20 pounds monthly, or you can select from one of our Green-Fed Beef Packages that range from a 22-pound sampler all the way up to ¼ of a steer!  Any way you choose to enjoy our beef is sure to be a choice that you can feel confident about and a real crowd pleaser all summer long!

Go to www.sagemountainbeef.com for more information and to sign-up for better beef!

We now also offer pork!  Members can choose between beef or pork every month.  Sage Mountain Farm’s pigs are raised in real dirt and mud, and they eat hundreds of thousands of pounds of our own organic vegetables!

Greens Galore!

Hello Again, I liked the format of last week’s post so much that I decided to do the same thing this week as well.  The title this week is greens galore, and that really is what Spring has brought us in our CSA boxes.  Tons of nutritious dark leafy greens!  I am pleased to say that my family and I were able to make use of ALL the greenie goodness this week without leftovers or waste.  I get so bummed out when I can’t get to all my fresh organic veggies fast enough.  You know, those busy weeks when it seems like sitting down to a meal at home is a challenge?  Well this week was a great example of determination and pre-planning.  When you find yourself with a mountain of greens, you can use the tags to search for all of my posts that feature greens.  Among them are some of the recipes that I made for my family this week and one new one!

The top left photo is a new recipe for me.  It is Spinach Potato Tacos and comes from Forks Over Knives.  I loved this recipe and it got good reviews from my kids and husband.  We eat tacos a lot and this was a new twist on a familiar favorite.

Top right is a photo of a typical Tuesday night here at my house…Taco Salad!  One of my go-to meals, taco salad is easy and nutritious.  Plus, the bonus of meals like this is that everyone gets to customize their own plate!

Bottom left is a photo of Lentil Sloppy Joes.  I  made this recipe last year and so this year when searching for a way to incorporate cooked greens into our main dish, I revived it, but with a few new suggestions.  Last year when we ate these we pretty much just ate the lentil mixture on toast and that was that.  This year I offered condiments, for more of a burger type feel to the meal.  It worked like a charm.  These toppings enticed some of my pickier eaters to enjoy, and even request a second helping, of lentils and greens.  What mom wouldn’t be pleased?!

The next photo (the one that looks mysteriously upside down, weird…), is just some leftovers.  Lentil sloppy Joe mix over a baked potato and a salad, utilitarian I know, but that’s an honest look at what happens for dinner sometimes.  Can’t always be gourmet you know, lol!

For the final photo there is a picture of Green Soup topped with almond Parmesan and green onions.  This recipe is the best way to subdue a ginormous pile of greens, hands down!  I can’t think of any other recipe that will allow you to use such a volume of leafy greens.  I have eaten this soup every morning this week for breakfast and it keeps me full for a long time.

So that’s all folks!  My week of delicious, organic food from my Sage Mountain Farm CSA box!  Hope you enjoyed this peek into my week.  What did you do with your greens this week?  Let me know in the comments…

A week in pictures…

 

Instead of reinventing the wheel again, this blog post I decided that I would show you all what I did with the delicious organic produce from my Sage Mountain Farm CSA box.   I also wanted to share with you something fabulous that I discovered at my (not so) local Barron’s this month.  Flavored vinegars.  Now I know that flavored vinegars have been around for a while, it’s nothing new, but I wanted to encourage you to try my new favorite flavor…Mango!  It is a white balsamic vinegar and it makes eating salad a real treat.  The smell alone is enough to go gaga for, but the flavor will really get you to clean your salad bowl for sure!  This week my salads featured lettuce, green onions, and radishes from Sage Mountain Farm’s awesome organic CSA box!

I used my produce for the usual salads and added lettuce to a veggie burger here and there, but the recipes that I want to highlight are the two from Forks Over Knives.  Chef AJ’s Red Lentil Chili always gets rave reviews, but this was the first time I had ever tried it.  Sure enough, it lived up to the hype…delicious and quite popular with most members of my family.  This dish was garnished with organic green onions from my weekly CSA box.  We decided to call it “red lentil stew” because my kids thought that it didn’t really fit with their concept of chili, but whatever you call it, give it a try.  It’s a keeper in my book!

The next recipe from Forks Over Knives that we tested out this week was Enchilada Casserole.  This one got mixed reviews from my crowd, I think because of the chunks of vegetables.  Texture can be an issue for kids.  Based on flavor, it was a good recipe and although it won’t take the place of our usual bean and vegan cheese enchiladas, I know it will show up again from time to time.  Pretty easy to toss together and it uses CSA greens, and you all know how I love that!

As for the other photos above, I made kale chips in the oven.  They were seasoned with nutritional yeast flakes and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.  Funny story, I make these every once in a while with just the Bragg’s, which is like soy sauce, and they go over well.  I like them when I am craving something salty and I have excess greens to use up.  This time I was really wanting a salty snack, and I think it turned out a bit like grocery shopping on an empty stomach, because they were S.A.L.T.Y. In fact, I was dared by my hubby to eat a whole plate of them, which I did, but boy…talk about too much of a good thing!

Last photo is of some cute  little rice rolls.  I used short grain brown rice and filled them with slivers of carrot, radishes, and greens along with a tiny bit of soy chorizo.  All yummy things from my CSA box (except the soy chorizo)!  And you know, Sage Mountain also offers wholesome green-fed pork so…you could make rice rolls with some veggies and some pork from the farm as well!

Have a great week!  If you liked this post, let me know in the comments.  I’ll post again soon with more ideas for enjoying the delicious organic produce from Sage Mountain Farm!
 

Butternut Squash Lasagna 

So, if you are like me you’ve got a little stash of butternut squash.  Waiting to be made into something delicious is tiresome work and I would like to relieve your squash of their wait.  If you have had a million bowls of butternut squash soup by now (which I have not because I hate the stuff), then you are probably wondering what else can be done to make these yummy guys into a dish worthy of your table.  Try substituting butternut squash puree for the pumpkin puree in any pumpkin pie recipe, one for one, and you will not be disappointed!   I did this all through the holidays and the pies were gobbled up!

Savory more to your taste?  Try this recipe for butternut squash lasagna.  I guarantee it will be a delightful surprise.  I used whatever veggies I had on hand.  You could definitely substitute for what you have on hand and what your family likes.  Give this creamy, nutritious lasagna a try.  I think it’s a keeper and so do my kids.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Ingredients:

ricotta cheese (I used Miyoko Schinner’s Almond Ricotta)

pasta sauce

1 box oven ready lasagna noodles (I used gluten free)

2 c zucchini puree (I still had some in my freezer from this summer)

1/2 c diced red bell pepper

1 onion, diced

1/2 c sliced black olives, divided

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 c diced tomato

2 c shredded butternut squash, uncooked (about one of the smallish ones)

1 t salt

1/4 t pepper

1/2 t oregano

Method:

Follow the preheating instructions on your box of oven ready lasagna noodles.  Then, in a glass baking dish (13 x 9), spread a generous amount of sauce.  In a large bowl combine all of the vegetables and give them a good stir so that they are nicely incorporated.  Next, add a layer of noodles over the sauce in your baking dish.  Over this add about one half of the vegetables.  Follow that with about one half of your ricotta cheese.  In place of ricotta you can always use cottage cheese, shredded cheese, or a mixture of any of these.  The almond ricotta that my family enjoys takes only a minute to make and is just three ingredients; blanched almonds, water and salt.  I recommend giving it a try!  Then you need to add another layer of noodles.  Don’t worry if your noodles don’t fit exactly, just break the dry noodles to fit into your pan.  Once the lasagna is cooked no one will ever know.  Follow the noodles with sauce again and then the rest of the vegetable mixture.  Finally top with ricotta and some olives on the top.  Bake as directed on the box of noodles that you purchased.

This is my new favorite way to devour butternut squash!  My kids ate it and raved about it afterward.  I kid you not, you are going to enjoy this delicious dish.

Thank you for supporting Sage Mountain Farm, leave me a comment below and let me know how you liked this recipe!

 

Jalapeño Jam and other Add-Ons!

 Howdy, folks!  In your CSA box there is always a delicious variety of produce, but did you know about the delicious variety of add-ons that you can get as well?  There is green fed ground beef, sustainably raised, there are farm fresh eggs from free-ranged chickens fed certified organic veggies from right here at Sage Mountain Farm, and if those weren’t enough you can also get local organic honey, trail mix, and jalapeño jam!

I want to feature the Jalapeño Jam in this post.  Just to give you a heads up, I had never had a pepper jam before this and I didn’t know what to expect, but boy was I blown away!  This jam is made from two varieties of Sage Mountain Farm‘s peppers, a sweet green bell pepper and the ever-popular in So-Cal…jalapeño pepper.  The jam is emerald green and every bit as delicious as it is enticing to look at.

My kids were really excited to give this jam a try and before I could come up with some recipe to feature it in they wanted to use it in their PB&Js for lunch.  I was hesitant, so I had them try a tiny bit on a spoon first.  Not only did they love it in their sandwiches that day but they kept asking for it, day after day!  One of them said that it reminded them of the sweet and spiciness of orange chicken.  So for my first suggestion, substitute this sweet/hot jam for your usual fare on a PB&J and you will be happy you did.

Another sandwich to enjoy Jalapeño Jam in is a cream cheese and jelly sandwich.  Since we eat a whole food, plant-based diet in our house we used a cashew cream cheese, but if your family enjoys dairy products then regular spreadable cream cheese will fit the bill nicely.  I liked mine toasted best.  One piece of toasted bread spread with cream cheese and the other piece spread with a generous layer of spicy sweet goodness!  Sandwich them together and devour!  This flavor combination also works wonderfully on crackers, which is what you see in the photo above.

I’ve read online that pepper jams are great glazes for meat, and I’ll bet for veggies too, but sadly our jar of Jalapeño Jam was empty long before I was able to make a “real recipe” with it.  We gobbled this stuff up, seriously… It’s so good!

Whether it’s the jam or another one of the great add-on choices available, I encourage everyone to give at least one of them a try.  These yummy choices are also available at our farmer’s market stands as well, so even if you don’t subscribe to our CSA, you can still enjoy some new and delightful tastes from Sage Mountain Farm.