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.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Recipe courtesy Susannah Locketti

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup finely shredded unpeeled zucchini
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips (you could also use nuts instead)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat muffin or loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl add flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, baking powder and nutmeg. Stir to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl add egg, sugar, zucchini and oil. Stir to combine.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  5. Add mixture to muffin or loaf tins, top with a few chocolate chips and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry!

This is an easy and sweet way to get zucchini into someone without them even realizing it!

Recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Cake

From Member Dorian…
Seeing you at the farm made me remember that a few people asked for the recipe for the chocolate zucchini cake, so here it is.  Enjoy!  I had a great time at the feast!!

Dorian proudly displays her Colchester Farm 10th Anniversary Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
(adapted from the Chatham Cookie Manor recipe, in Gourmet magazine July 1984)

Cake:
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple or orange juice
1 1/2 cups loosely packed grated zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Line 2 buttered 8-inch cake pans with wax paper, butter the paper, and dust the pans with flour.  Melt the chocolate in a separate pan, either a double-boiler or microwave.  In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, beat in the eggs and stir in the chocolate, combining the mixture well.  Beat in the sugar, oil and juice, and stir in the zucchini and the walnuts.  Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake the layers in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until they pull away from the sides of the pans.  Let the layers cool on a rack for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto the rack.  Remove the wax paper and let the layers cool completely.

Icing:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup sifted Dutch-process cocoa powder

In a bowl beat the cream cheese and the butter until the mixture is smooth.  Beat in the confectioner’s sugar in batches and beat in the vanilla and the cocoa.  Arrange one cake layer on a serving plate, spread it with icing, and top it with the other layer.  Spread the top and sides of the cake with icing and chill the cake for at least one hour or overnight.

My tweaks:
Though I’ve made this cake many times with the exact recipe, for the icing this time I had some Angelito cheese from Narragansett Creamery, which is like a whipped cream cheese, but made with yogurt.  It is runnier than regular cream cheese, so I only used 6 oz. and added 2 more tablespoons of butter.  Because of the looser consistency, I also had to add a little more sugar.

Be Creative with Zucchini

Here are a few zucchini recipes while we anticipate those days when we are trying to get you to take as much zucchini as you can handle…

 

Zucchini Pancakes

1 1/2 lbs Zucchini
1 t, salt
1/4 C. thinly sliced onion
1 lg. Egg
½ C. coarse fresh bread crumbs
1/3 C. Parmesan grated
Black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for brushing skillet

Grate zucchini on the largest holes of a grater into a colander and combine well with salt.  Let zucchini drain 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F
Using hands, squeeze as much liquid from zucchini as possible.  In a bowl stir together zucchini, onion, egg, bread crumbs, parmesan and pepper to taste until combined well.  Lightly brush a 12-inch non-stick skillet with oil and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.  Drop four 1/8-cup measures of zucchini mixture into skillet and with a spatula flatten into 1/4-inch-thick pancakes.  Cook pancakes 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through, transferring pancakes to an ovenproof plate. Keep warm while cooking the rest.

 

Zucchini Bread Recipe

2 Eggs, beaten
1 1/3 C. Sugar
2 t. Vanilla
3 C. grated Zucchini
2/3 C. melted unsalted butter
2 t. Baking Soda
Pinch Salt
3 C. Flour
1/2 t. Nutmeg
2 t. Cinnamon
1 C. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 C. dried cranberries or raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).  In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter.  Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.  Add the flour, a third at a time.  Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix.  Fold in the nuts and dried cranberries or raisins if using.

Divide the batter equally between 2 buttered 5 by 9 inch loaf pans.  Bake for 1 hour (check for doneness at 50 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted in to the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.  Makes 2 loaves.

For Muffins:
Coat each muffin cup in your muffin pan with a little butter or vegetable oil spray.  Use a spoon to distribute the muffin dough equally among the cups, filling the cups up completely.  Bake on the middle rack until muffins are golden brown and the top of the muffins bounce back when you press on them – about 25 to 30 minutes.  Test with a long toothpick or a thin bamboo skewer to make sure the centers of the muffins are done.  Set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.  Remove muffins from the tin and let cool another 20 minutes.

*Note: if you are including walnuts and dried fruit, you will likely have more batter than is needed for 12 muffins.  I got about 14 muffins from this batch.

 

Zucchini Oven Fries
Here’s a clever way to get your kids to eat zucchini–and these crisp little fries are a heck of a lot healthier than French fries!   You don’t need a deep-fryer to make them, either.  Low in carbs, and perfect for those of us who are mindful of our weight.  Zucchini Oven Fries make a great appetizer, party food, or supper side dish.  Tender zucchini with a crisp golden cornmeal coating make these oven fries popular with everybody who tries them.

Canola oil cooking spray
1 C. flour
1/4 C. cornmeal
1 t. salt
1/2 t. Pepper
3 med. Zucchini, cut into 1/2-by-3-inch sticks
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 450 F.  Coat a large baking sheet evenly with cooking spray.  In a large sealable plastic bag, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper.
Dip zucchini sticks in beaten egg white and then shake in the bag to coat with flour mixture.  Arrange on baking sheet, not touching.  Coat exposed sides with cooking spray.
Bake on center rack for 7 minutes.  Turn zucchini sticks and coat any floury spots with cooking spray.  Continue baking another 5 minutes or so, until just tender and golden.  Serve hot.
Serves 4.