Fresh from the farm is an experience

Fresh from the farm is an experience

Buying fresh fruits and vegetables from a local farm stand not only demonstrates healthy eating habits to children, it can teach them the value of supporting local agriculture. If we’re lucky, the trip to the farm can result in a few cherished memories. There is no denying that tomatoes or lettuce picked the same day  taste better than the produce purchased from the grocery store. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of harvesting food from a backyard garden rather than a refrigerator, you will agree that the “chore” itself could be as fun as the food was tasty. I remember picking vegetables with my grandfather; he taught me how to choose the ripest and sweetest tomatoes and how to determine when peppers were ready to be picked. Even sweeter than those tomatoes are the memories of the experience that I still carry with me today.

 

By today’s standards, however, we are not always as diligent about taking time to smell the roses…or as the case may be, the basil. In our rush to complete all of our errands, making a special trip to a local farm, exclusively for the purpose of buying cucumbers and tomatoes, can seem like an added chore and one that could easily be eliminated, if we just purchased our produce at the local grocery store, along with all of the other items on our list. But sometimes, these everyday chores are the same ones that create an experience and in the process, a lasting memory, for children and parents, alike. If we eliminate these so-called chores, we may be denying ourselves and our children the pleasure of true, quality time spent together.

 

When you buy your fruits and vegetables from Colchester Neighborhood Farm, consider blocking out an extra 15 minutes or 30 minutes for the “chore” because it could easily turn into a fun and wonderful experience. Colchester Neighborhood Farm is a social enterprise in every sense of the word. Employing adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities who are more than happy to wait on their customers at the farm stand, they are also eager to show off their farm, which includes chickens, a friendly donkey named Dapple, and some goats and their babies…yes the kids love the kids! A visit to Colchester Neighborhood Farm is more than just buying fresh fruits and vegetables, it is an opportunity for our children to learn about agriculture, to see how their food is grown and where it comes from. And going home with a few good memories along with some fresh tomatoes, organically grown cucumbers, and a bouquet of fresh flowers isn’t bad either.

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Regal Beagle Gazpacho

Courtesy of Susannah Locketti

4 servings

Put all ingredients in blender:

  • 2# plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 1 red bell pepper, dice
  • ¼ C diced red onion
  • ½ English cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar

Add:

  • 1 1/2 Cups tomato juice
  • Drizzle 1 Cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha chili sauce
  • Garnish with:
  • ½ English cucumber, small dice
  • 1 Cup diced watermelon
  • 2 Tbsp chopped scallions
  • ½ lime

The first step to making Gazpacho is to concasse your tomatoes. This means to peel and seed. Fill a 2 qt. pot with water and bring to a boil. Using a paring knife or tomato shark, take to core out of the tomato and cut a small “x” just to score the skin on the bottom of the tomato. Get a bowl of ice water ready. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for 20 seconds. Lift from water and submerge in ice water. Allow tomato to cool for 2 minutes. Remove all tomatoes from ice bath. The skin should easily peel away from tomato. Cut the peeled tomatoes in half and using a small spoon, remove the seeds. Place the tomatoes in the blender, along with the red bell pepper, red onion, cucumber and tomato juice. Once the ingredients have been pureed to a smooth consistency, add the sherry vinegar, salt, pepper and sriracha. Turn blender on and slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Divide the gazpacho into 4 bowls. I like some texture in my gazpacho so I garnish with diced cucumber, scallion, juice of ½ lime and fresh watermelon. Make a nice mound in the center of the soup for a great presentation!

What A Little Gem The Cucumber Is…

  1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc. 
  2. Feeling tired in the afternoon?  Put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber.  Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours. 
  3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower?  Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror; it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance. 
  4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds?  Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long.  The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area. 
  5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool?  Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite.  Works great on wrinkles, too!
  6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache?  Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free.  Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache.
  7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge?  Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders, and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.
  8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don’t have enough time to polish your shoes?  Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe; its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water. 
  9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge?  Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone! 
  10. Stressed out and don’t have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa?  Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water.  The chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams. 
  11. Just finished a business lunch and realize you don’t have gum or mints?  Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath.  The phytochemicals will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath. 
  12. Looking for a ‘green’ way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel?  Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean; not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won’t leave streaks and won’t harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean. 
  13. Using a pen and made a mistake?  Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing.  It also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!

Recipe: Cool Cucumber Delight

Just in case we have one more blast of cukes and one more HOT September day… from member Ellen…

(take some of the oversized cukes for this)

  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups cucumbers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Ladle into serving bowls. 

Makes 4 servings.

More uses for those cucumbers!

Here are a couple cucumber recipes from Lynda…

Company Best Pickles
10 medium cukes
7 cups sugar
5 teasp salt
2T mixed pickling spicces
4 C cider vinegar

Cover whole cucumbers with boiling water
Allow to stand til next morning then drain
Repeat this process on the next 3 mornings
On the fifth day drain and slice into1/2 inch pieces

Combine sugar, spices, salt & vinegar
Bring to boiling and pour over cukes
Let stand 2 days

On the third day bring to boiling and seal in hot, sterilized jars


Potsville Piccolilli
6 pints ripe tomatoes
6 pints green tomatoes
2 pints onions
2 bunches of celery
6 small red peppers (hot)

Measure the above after grinding  tomatoes and onions
Chop above ingredients
Sprinkle 1 ½ cup salt over all and let stand overnight.  Drain

12 C sugar (5 pounds plus one cup)
2 Quarts cider vinegar
2t cloves
2t cinnamon

Cook 1 hour
Fill jars to ½ inch from top and process 10 minutes

Makes 15 pints

To make this a little hotter, add 2 extra onions and 2 extra peppers

Got Cukes?

Cucumbers are here… lots of you have been sharing your favorite recipes to use them up

Cool Cucumber Slaw

3 med. Cucumbers, coarsely shredded
1 t. kosher Salt
1 C. Greek Yogurt
2 T. Lime juice
1 T. chopped fresh Mint leaves
1 T. chopped fresh Dill leaves
1 Carrot finely shredded
1 small sweet onion thinly sliced
1/2 t. Sugar

Stir together the cucumber and salt.  Place in a colander over a mixing bowl.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Discard liquid and place cucumber in a mixing bowl.
Add yogurt, lime juice, mint, cilantro, onion and sugar to the cucumber.  Mix until well combined.  Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.  3 servings

 

Cold Cucumber Soup
15 min prep

SERVES 4
2 large Cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1 ¼ C. Sour Cream
1 C. Vegetable or Chicken broth
1 sm. Onion, cut into wedges
4 sprigs fresh Parsley, stems removed
2 sprigs fresh Dill or 1 t. Dill Weed, stems removed
1 T. Lemon juice
¼ t. white pepper
Cut cucumbers into large chunks; place in a blender with remaining ingredients.
Puree; pour into bowl.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

 
Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickles
Fresh Cucumbers, cleaned
Brine;
4 Cups Cider Vinegar
8 Cups Water
1 Cup Kosher Salt
Heat in pan and bring to a boil to dissolve salt.
Prep; Dill and Garlic
Wash canning jars, dry and sterilize in a 250 degree oven on a sheet pan for 20 min.
Leave in oven until ready to use.  Put seals and lid rings in a pan and boil for 15 min. reduce heat to low until ready to use.

To each Pint or Quart Jar add;
Pints                                               Quarts
1 t. Pickling Spice                      2 t.
1 t. Mustard Seeds                    2 t.
1 clove chopped Garlic          2 cloves
½ t. Whole Peppercorns       1 t. or to taste
1-2 Sprigs of fresh dill             2-4

Place Pickling Spices, Mustard Seeds, Garlic, Peppercorns and Dill sprigs in the bottom of each jar.
Pack Cucumbers into hot jars.  Cut to fit in jars tightly.
Fill jars with hot brine to ¼” of top of jar.
Place lids and bands on wiped dry rims.  Place on a thick towel with the lids down.  Cool to room temp and keep in refrigerator.
Enjoy in 7-10 days!!!


Here is a simple method of serving cucumbers from Elaine
We eat them the same way as Dave’s parents and grandparents (and probably many other generations of his family) did for the small cukes they grew.  They were old Maine Yankee farmers that can trace back to Mayflower and other 17th century settlers.  It’s simple but good – they peel the cukes so they look striped (half skin on) then slice and put in small bowl on ice (or fridge to make the slices cold) and drizzle with red wine vinegar.  Fast, easy and we haven’t found a better way to eat them.  This side dish goes with everything!


Kerrie sends this quickie…  
you can do this with lots of veggies, but I have only done cuke slices.  I haven’t used chiles.
Good with burgers, grilled chicken, deli sandwiches, or hot dogs.  Any sturdy glass jar (new or reused) works well for these quick pickles.
Always clean and dry the jars before using.

Ingredients:
Makes 3 1/2 cups

3 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
2 to 4 small red chiles (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups fresh dill fronds (about 1 bunch)
Prepared Vegetables

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, combine white vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed, celery seed, red chiles (optional), and ground turmeric.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Arrange prepared vegetables and dill fronds in one or more jars.  Pour hot brine into jar to completely cover vegetables and seal jar.  Refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours (or up to 1 week).