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!

 

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…

9 Things to do with Citrus

  1. Fresh fruit segments

This one’s a no-brainer, really.

Sage Mountain Farm
Sunshine packaged by Nature

Both grapefruits and oranges can lend a bright juicy flavor to any salad.  With citrus in your salad you can avoid or reduce the amount of dressing that you would normally use and save yourself a few calories while you’re at it…bonus!

  1. Fresh juice

Another no-brainer… Hey, I’m just trying to warm you guys up with the easy ones first.  Juicing your citrus, whether it’s lemon, orange or grapefruit is a tasty and easy way to enjoy all the vitamin C that comes with these fruits.

Sage Mountain Farm
Fresh Juice

Did you know that it’s just as important to get your vitamin C along with your iron as it is to get your iron at all?  Vitamin C boosts your body’s ability to absorb all of the iron-y goodness from the leafy greens that you are all eating so much of, right?!

  1. Frozen juice cubes

Say you just can’t drink all the juice right away, no worries, freeze leftovers in ice cube trays!  When we were kids my mom (Hi, Mom!) used to give us ice cubes of freshly squeezed orange juice, a cool and nutritious alternative to artificially flavored popsicles.

  1. Juice + Sugar =

    Tart and Sweet, like me...right?!
    Tart and Sweet, like me…right?!

Lemonade if you have lemons, Orange-Ade if you have oranges, or my favorite…Grapefruit-Ade.  These are great for a crowd!

  1. Fresh zest

Citrus zest is tiny shreds of the outer part of a citrus peel.  It’s the colored part, not the white bitter pith.  The outer part of the peel holds the citrus oil which, in turn, holds the flavor.  There are special tools known as microplanes and/or citrus zesters, but you can always do what I do and use the smallest holes on your box grater.  You know, there are both savory and sweet applications for fresh citrus zest.  You can add citrus zest on top of salads, in quick breads, over chicken or fish, or even in a stir fry.  Anywhere you need a zing of fresh citrus flavor, these tiny shreds can really deliver!

  1. Frozen zest

Did you get over zest-lous?  Did you zest all of the citrus in your CSA box and not have a plan for all of it?  Never fear…you can freeze it.  Now, I have heard but not yet tried, that you can pack an ice cube tray with zest and top each compartment with either water or cooking oil and then freeze.  I suppose that this will give you individual portions which can be added individually to recipes.  Sounds good!  But I am lazy, I’m sure you aren’t, but in case you are having an off day I would try putting all of the zest in a freezer bag and calling it a day.  When you need some just break off a hunk and put the rest back.  It’s not scientific, but I think it would work.  😉

   7.  Zest infused salt

This one, I have tried and boy oh boy is it a hoot!  After zesting the citrus of your choice, mix with kosher salt (ya know, the big flaky salt).  From there it is a veritable smorgasbord of salty choices.  If you want to use the salt for food, like a fancy finishing salt then you can add herbs.  If you want to use as a body scrub then just add olive oil.  There are so many possibilities, you are only limited by your imagination!  Lime zest infused salt for margaritas…you bet!

  1. Zest infused sugar

So this is a sweet take on the above.  Lemon sugar would be perfect to top muffins with or quick breads.  Sugar, with its smaller grains, can be used as a facial scrub as well as a body scrub.

  1. A Natural cleaner

Got a lemon or grapefruit on your counter?  Cut that sucker in half and go to town baby!  Use a lemon or grapefruit half to scour your sink and make it shine.  You’ll be eliminating bacteria at the same time.  Turns out what makes you pucker also kills germs quite effectively!

I hope that these suggestions have sparked your inner citrus lover!  Let’s have a conversation, leave me a comment below or on Twitter and Instagram.  Have a great weekend!