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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Green Tomatoes in November

In Recipes on November 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm

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Inevitably, gardeners are faced with the “green tomatoes in November” dilemma and inevitably the majority will attempt to defy the Laws of Nature (and in this case, those of a zone 7 climate) and hold on for them to ripen, but just as inevitably the first hard freeze, in November, will quash any sense of green-thumb megalomania and render the possibilities merely fantasy, or… with a sprinkling of corn meal, we can Bobby Flay them!

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With the formation of the Junior Chefs this year, harvesting green tomatoes for the creation of salsas, pickles, and relish nudged us away from the temptation to hope for a warming spell and provided us with plenty of healthy, yet unripe, fruit to use, especially with many of the herbs still available.

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Green Heirloom Tomato Relish

6 cups green heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 tabasco peppers, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup (2 stalks) celery, coarsely chopped
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. thai basil, finely chopped
2 tbsp. African blue basil, finely chopped
2 tbsp. salad burnet, finely chopped
1 tbsp. mustard seed
1 tbsp. celery seed
1 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. winter savory, very finely chopped
2 tsp. freshly grated turmeric
1 tsp. lavender leaves, very finely chopped

Following the standard pickling procedure, everything goes into a non-reactive pot, is brought to the boil, simmered for 5, then jarred!

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The question still remains as to how to dispose of the old vines. There is some debate concerning how to get rid of old, and possibly diseased tomato vines, with burning and trashing considered better choices than composting, however even though our heirloom vines probably do have the range of fungal diseases prevalent in tomatoes (septoria, alternaria, anthracnose, fusarium, verticilium, and phytophthera all common to mid-Atlantic farming), as we have a strict crop rotation plan, we’ve decided to follow our minimal-till protocol and use the old vines, well-chopped, as a compost layer knowing that we’ll not be planting any solanaceous crops in the same field for another 5 years.

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This Season’s Pumpkins: Inside the Numbers

In Kids on the Farm, Recipes on October 20, 2013 at 2:45 pm

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90 pumpkins curing, two dozen still on the vine, and 87 Pre-schoolers and Pre-kindergarters anticipating our Harvest Day Parade in 10 days’ time… I think we have it covered!

Following advice from the University of Illinois Agricultural Extension Service, we’ve harvested the majority of our pumpkins and are curing them inside the Growing Room. Ideal curing should be at 80-85°F with 80-85 percent relative humidity for 10 days. This is done to prolong the post harvest life of the pumpkin fruit because during this process the fruit skin hardens, wounds heal and immature fruit ripens.

A few more numbers: we used Charisma F1 hybrids this year, a selection from Johnny’s Seeds which was developed by Johnny’s in conjunction with Cornell University to be a PMT variety (powdery mildew tolerant); 250 seeds for $10.95; average weight 14-18lbs; 1.5 fruits per reduced-length vine; maturing in 98 days; so at 5 seeds per mound, and 25 mounds in total, planted July 14th… our 3 and 4 year-olds will continue the tradition on October 31st!

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But the math also means that we’ll have some left over for our Junior Chefs to have a go at making these delicious Pumpkin Cheesecakes following a recipe by food-blogger and Iron Chef America judge, Pim Techamuanvivit!

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O Thou Weed!

In Recipes on October 13, 2013 at 5:04 pm

O thou weed, who art so lovely fair and smell’st so sweet that the sense aches at thee, would thou hadst ne’er been born! (Othello 4.2.69)

On the farm, we grow weeds! Yes, those plants commonly considered “undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted” here in the US, but in other parts of the world, three of the most common weeds found on the farm are not only staple crops, they are highly nutritious.

purple amaranth

Inadvertently planted in 2011, a purple-leaved decorative amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus) has self-seeded throughout our space and returns with abandon every Spring. Beautiful in the late Summer and early Fall, it seems to grow anywhere there is disturbed ground (read: in every field and garden on the farm!) yet whilst many gardeners around DC have sprayed and pulled and heaved these plants from cracks in the sidewalk and from their beds of prized blooms, on the Farm at Walker Jones we encourage its growth, for after all, it is an edible crop. Documented as a cultivated edible crop throughout much of Asia, it is consumed as a leaf vegetable in Indonesia and Malaysia where it is known as bayam; in Vietnam, it is called rau dn and is used to make a soup; in India, the leaves are added in the preparation of a popular dal called thotakura pappu; and in China, the leaves and stems are used as a stir-fry vegetable and called yin choi.

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Purple-leaved amaranth ready for simmering in a broth seasoned with garlic and allspice, and cracked black pepper

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This season we also received a donation of heirloom seeds from a farmer in Kingston, Jamaica. Not only are the okra still growing and producing, another amaranth (Amaranthus viridis) grew very successfully. The national dish of Trinidad, and of course popular throughout Jamaica, this leaf is used to make callaloo.

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A callaloo loaf from Christie’s in Brooklyn – photo by Chef Paul Yee, the author of the food club Brooklyn Table 

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The scourge of cotton and soy fields in the southern US, resistant to Roundup, and classified by the USDA as a noxious weed toxic to livestock, redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus) is another crop we encourage to self-sow on the farm (anything this defiant towards Monsanto is always welcome!) The young leaves of this plant are commonly used throughout both East Africa- in Swahili it is known as mchicha, and in the West, found as a staple ingredient in most Nigerian dishes where it is known in Yoruba as efo tete or arowo jeja (“we have money left over for fish”), called lenga lenga in the Congo, as well as added to the Cameroonian peanut soup ndole (the name taken from yet another “weedy” species, Vernonia, one of the ironweeds)

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Redroot pigweed, soon to be steamed, then added to potatoes and peas in a samosa!

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As one of the important aspects of our mission as a farm is to produce food, and to improve nutrition in our local community, yet another weed is allowed to grow profusely throughout the Summer here on the farm. Containing more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable we could purposely cultivate, is purslane (Portulaca oleraceae) whose leaves, buds, and flowers are eaten throughout much of Europe and the Mediterranean.  In Greece, where it is called andrakla (αντράκλα) or glystrida (γλυστρίδα), they fry the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. In Turkey, besides being used in salads and in baked pastries, it is cooked as a vegetable similar to spinach, as it is also used in Albania, where it is called burdullak when simmered and served in olive oil dressing, or mixed with other ingredients as a filling for dough layers of byrek. In the south of Portugal (Alentejo), baldroegas are used as a soup ingredient.

Another very important reason we encourage purslane to grow wantonly is in its role as an ecological facilitator, sending its roots down through harder soil that other crops cannot penetrate on their own; corn in particular will “follow” purslane roots as they penetrate the deadpan common to DC soils

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Purslane salad with cucumbers and tomatoes- photo by Chef Karen Tedesco of DinnerStyle 

‘Saijo’, ‘Jiro’, and ‘Maekawa Jiro’ Asian Persimmons

In Recipes on October 9, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Saijo Asian Persimmon

Writing about the native American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) in the “General History of Virginia” (1624), Captain John Smith describes his persimmon experience as follows: “If it be not ripe, it will draw a man’s mouth awry, with much torment, but when it is ripe, it is as delicious as an apricot!” As our American persimmons will not bear fruit until they are at least 10 years old (25 is optimum), we are looking to the East!

It’s less than one month to go before our ‘Saijo’ Asian persimmons (Diospyros kaki) will be ready for harvest! This is one of the astringent varieties (“will pucker your mouth if unripe” in non-horticulturist language) and so although those in the above photograph are already orange, they will only be ripe when fully soft. The other varieties we grow, ‘Jiro’ and ‘Maekawa Jiro’ (with slightly smaller fruit) both belong to the non-astringent group and can be eaten when they first turn orange and are still firm.

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Our ‘Jiro’ trees seem to be ripening the earliest so they have been earmarked for our Junior Chefs to make a persimmon-chili jam in two weeks’ time, using the organic tabasco peppers we just harvested, however the ‘Saijo’ is destined for the cookie jar!

4 very soft, ripe ‘Saijo’ persimmons
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp salt
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp 
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Coarsely chop the fruit, discarding the calyxes and any seeds and puree persimmons in a food processor to get one cup.

Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Using an electric mixer set at high speed, cream butter and sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until mixture is light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in egg. With mixer on low speed, beat in persimmon puree, then flour mixture. Stir in nuts.

Using a tablespoon measure for each cookie, drop the dough, two inches apart, on the baking sheets. Bake, rotating trays from top to bottom, midway, until edges of cookies are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

oh, and while still warm… eat two, one from each hand!

Store the remaining 28 cookies when completely cooled on a very high shelf in the tallest closet you can find, and surround with barbed wire!

Fig & Almond Preserves

In Recipes on October 6, 2013 at 2:07 am

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We are just a few weeks away from making Fig & Almond preserves with the Junior Chefs club!

The recipe ingredients: 4lbs ‘Celeste’ figs, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup amaretto (yes, I did say 1/4 CUP!), slivered almonds, lo-sugar pectin, so only 4 1/2 cups sugar (instead of 7), a touch of cardamom syrup, and cinnamon to taste ~ perfect with brie, Ile de France, or cambozola!

Kale-Banana-Strawberry Smoothies

In Recipes on October 5, 2013 at 2:03 am

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Another creation by the  Junior Chefs at Walker Jones: kale-banana-strawberry smoothies made with organic soy milk and sweetened with honey!

Three of our student Junior Chefs- Nasir, Rasheed, and Fred (all 8th graders), created this nutritious breakfast for our 4th grade class, utilising organic kale from the Farm as well as our own Walker Jones honey harvested by some of our Junior Beekeepers- Kenneth, Ralanda, Yasmine P., Yasmine T., and Trevon.

The recipe: a handful of torn kale, one banana, a handful of quartered strawberries, 1 tbsp honey, enough soy milk to fill a blender halfway up the dry ingredients, a touch of vanilla, et voilà! (total fat 4g, sat fat 0.5g, sodium 90mg, total carbs 12g, fiber 20%, sugars 10g, potassium 25%, vit A 12%, calcium 30%, vit B12 50%, vit C 100%, vit K 40%)

Early Morning Okra!

In Kids on the Farm, Recipes on September 18, 2013 at 3:28 am

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One of the easiest crops to grow here in DC is okra. Yes, Robin Williams’ comedy might represent the thoughts of a few past okra consumers – “Okra is the closest thing to nylon I’ve ever eaten. It’s like they bred cotton with a green bean. Okra, tastes like snot. The more you cook it, the more it turns into string!” – but when freshly picked, even eaten raw straight off the plant, okra gladdens the heart in stews, soups, and when dusted with corn meal and quickly sautéed!

Okra is very good source of Dietary Fiber (13%), Vitamin A (7%), Vitamin C (50%), Vitamin K (66%), Thiamin (13%), Vitamin B6 (11%), Folate (22%), as well as the minerals Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese.

Related to both cotton and hibiscus, once the edible flowers are pollinated, it only takes about 4 days for the seed pod to form. We are growing 5 varieties this season: ‘Millionaire’, which produces high yields of dark green 5-point pods; ‘Clemson Spineless’, light green 5 to 8-point pods and the standard variety grown in the southern US; ‘Jambalaya’, a high-yielding early season pod; ‘Carmine Splendor’, a fast-maturing, deep red late season pod; and an heirloom variety from Jamaica, mailed to us from one of our friends in Kingston!

In October this crop will be the featured vegetable when our Junior Chefs learn all about pickling!

The recipe ingredients: fresh okra, garlic, lemon, cider vinegar, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, celery seeds, and black peppercorns (the okra, garlic, coriander, and fennel seed all harvested from our Farm)

A Touch of the Tropics

In Recipes on August 27, 2012 at 12:27 am

In the culinary world, fruit and herb or spice pairings are both a science and an art: strawberries with sage, peaches with rosemary, pears with vanilla, and the ubiquitous citrus with just about anything! Unfortunately there are some fruits and plants we simply cannot grow on The Farm at Walker-Jones – vanilla is a tropical orchid from Madagascar, and can only grow in USDA Zone 10 or higher (we are Zone 7); growing peaches and pears in humid East Coast climates can be problematic with regard to insect pests; and citrus like oranges, lemons, limes, although possible to grow indoors, are also unable to survive the first cold weather in DC preferring sunnier climes like Florida and California… however all is not lost!

Among the diverse selection of plants grown in our Herb Garden, we have collected a number of tropical spice alternatives and various fruit/herb combinations. A staple ingredient in Polish vodka, Vanilla Grass (Anthoxanthum nitens) contains the chemical compound coumarin which imparts a vanilla flavor to salads and refreshing drinks; coumarin is also found in Sweet Woodruff (Gallium odoratum) and is used extensively in Germany to flavor everything from icecream to sausages. An alternative to allspice and long used by Native Americans, we feature a shrub native to the mid-Atlantic, Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), which produces red berries (drupes) which ripen during apple season and which can be used to flavor traditional fall pies and pastries.

From the largest genus in the mint family we have Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) with pineapple-scented leaves (and beautiful tubular red flowers loved by our native butterflies and the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds), and two salvias (Salvia microphylla) with Wild Watermelon or Maraschino Cherry scented leaves. Among the lemon/lime-scented herbs, we have both Lemon and Lime Balm (Melissa officinalis), Lemon Basil, Lemon Thyme, and the delicious Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora), and a new mint, Lime Mint. Some new mints also include Orange Mint and Grapefruit Mint, and in our growing room on the farm, waiting for planting next Spring, we have cuttings of a rare mint from France, Banana Mint, which tastes and smells like a combination of mint and ripe bananas! Our citrus herb collection is rounded out with a tangerine-scented Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) ~ take that, Florida!

Pink Grapefruit-Mint-Tarragon Granita
This alternative to sorbet (so you don’t need an ice cream maker) can be a delicious dessert on its own or a palate cleanser between rich and strongly-flavored entrées and a cheese course.

1 tablespoon freshly grated grapefruit zest
3 ¾ cups pink grapefruit juice (not from concentrate, approx. 4 large fresh grapefruits)
6 tablespoons clover honey (or more to taste)
2 6-inch sprigs fresh French or Mexican tarragon, plus 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
4 6-inch sprigs fresh Grapefruit mint, plus 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh Grapefruit mint leaves
Place a quart-size (or larger) storage container for the granita in the freezer to pre-chill.
Place grapefruit zest, grapefruit juice, and honey in a large saucepan and stir thoroughly. Bring just to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring until the honey dissolves. Taste and add more honey, if desired. Stir in tarragon and grapefruit mint sprigs
Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse the mixture, about 1 hour.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large, shallow container, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Stir in chopped tarragon and mint. Cover and place on a level surface in the freezer for at least 5 hours, stirring with a fork every 30 minutes, moving the frozen edges toward the slushy center and breaking up any icy crystals. To serve, let the granita stand for about 5 minutes at room temperature to soften slightly, then break up and fluff it with a fork.

Contributed by David Hilmy, lead teacher for the farm.

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

In Recipes on September 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm

The farm welcomes an amazing array of volunteers every week. It is not only a great place to give back to the community. It is also a great place to meet the most interesting people imaginable. One of our volunteers, Saule, blogs most splendidly at 2 Sisters, 2 Kitchens, and just recently shared a yummy ice cream recipe that can be made with fresh mint. She just happened to pick hers up from the farm. Thanks for everything, Saule!

Fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
¼ kosher salt
2 cups fresh mint (stems count)

¼ cup whole milk
4 tsp. cornstarch

6 oz. dark chocolate

Mix heavy cream, 1 cup of milk, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and mint in a large pot. Cover and bring to boil. Boil for 1 minute, turn off the heat. With the lid closed infuse the mixture for 2 hours. Strain the liquid into a large bowl and press the mint through a chinois/fine mesh strainer to extract the mint flavor. Discard mint and pour the liquid back into the pot. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil.

While the mint liquid is getting warm, mix cornstarch and remaining milk until the mixture is well combined. Stir the liquid into the pot and cook until the mixture thickens for about 2 minutes. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon. Turn off the heat.

Place cream cheese in a bowl and pour in ¼ cup of hot mixture, whisk until smooth. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pot and stir the base for a minute. The ice cream base is almost finished.

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Pour the ice cream base into a large Ziploc bag. Place a closed bag into the ice water. This will allow the base to cool just in 10 minutes.
Once the base is cool, transfer it into the ice cream maker and follow manufacturing instructions.

Several minutes before the ice cream is ready and your ice cream machine starts to sound like an old Soviet train, melt the chocolate in a microwave or a water bath. Turn off the ice cream maker.

Drizzle the bottom and the sides of a large plastic container with melted chocolate and top with a layer of ice cream. Drizzle more chocolate over the ice cream and top with another layer of ice cream. Using a dining knife, break frozen chocolate into small chips. Continue layering chocolate and ice cream breaking the chocolate every 1 or 2 layers.

Freeze the ice cream for at least 2 hours and enjoy on a hot summer day after few hours of farming.

The Thanksgiving Recipes

In Recipes on November 24, 2010 at 11:00 pm


Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cup/9.5oz oatmeal
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar
3/4 cup/8.5oz sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup/6.5oz pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup/3oz rough chopped bittersweet chocolate

Mix oatmeal, soy milk, grapeseed oil, baking powder, agave nectar, sugar and salt in a mixer with paddle attachment for 2 full minutes. Add pumpkin seeds and chocolate and mix until combined.
Drop cookies on baking sheet and flat with moist fingers.

Bake 350˚F oven until golden brown.

Bread (Raisin, Pumpkin Seed, White, Wheat)

3 cups water
2 tablespoons fresh compressed yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt
4 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 cups organic all purpose unbleached flour (exact amount determined when making)
oil for pan
1.Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl combine water, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix until somewhat smooth. Gradually add flour, about 2 cups at a time, switching back and forth between the whole wheat and the all purpose unbleached. Knead in flour after each addition.
2.When the dough can stick together as a ball take the dough out of the bowl and place on a clean surface. Knead the dough adding more flour until it stops sticking to your hands. Knead dough vigorously for about 2 minutes.
3.Split the dough in four pieces and form into long loaves. Coat a sheet tray with oil. Place breads on the sheet tray .
4.Bake the bread until it is a deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.
(with one bread we added additional whole wheat flour, another we added raisins and another we added pumpkin seeds)

Corn Bread Stuffing

Cornbread, make a day in advance:
2 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 teaspoon salt
3 cup buttermilk
2 egg beaten
2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 oz melted earth balance plus 1 oz for pan

To make cornbread, mix all ingredients until just smooth.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat. Grease hot pan with 1 oz earth balance and add corn bread batter. Let cook on the stove top until the sides just begin to set, about 4 minutes. Place in oven and cook until the bread is thoroughly cooked, about 20 minutes.

Additional Stuffing Ingredients:
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 quart chopped onions
1 quart chopped carrots
1 quart chopped celery
1 quart chopped apples
1 quart of cooked bulgar wheat
2 heaping teaspoons of chopped sage
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add onions, carrots and celery. Cook stirring often until the onions are translucent, about 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Break cornbread into pieces with your hands, add additional stuffing ingredients and mix thoroughly. Place in a heavy bottom skillet and bake until thoroughly hot and the top is crusty, about 2 hours. To get the top more crispy turn oven to broil just before serving.

Collard Greens

1 quart sliced onions
2 cups of Braggs Unfiltered Cider Vinegar
2 cups water
agave nectar to taste
salt and pepper to taste
6 quarts cleaned collard greens

In a large pot combine onions, vinegar, water, agave nectar, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil and add collard greens. Cook over medium heat and stir often until greens are tender, about 3 hours. Taste greens and adjust agave nectar, salt and pepper if necessary.