Simple Summer Suppers

We have tomatoes all over our house.  Several crates are stacked in the guest room right now, and as they near the point of getting too ripe, we’re rushing to find ways to use them.  Here are two simple ideas that both start with roasting.

Roasted Tomatoes, Peppers & Goat Cheese on Crusty Bread

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I started with this roasted tomato recipe, but made a few modifications: On the same baking sheet, I added in thick strips of green bell pepper with the tomatoes. If you’re using sungold or cherry tomatoes as I did, you can just put them on the baking sheet whole (no need to cut them) and check on them every 15 minutes or so, since they’ll cook faster than large tomatoes.  I like to pull them out after they have burst, melted down a little, and have just the slightest char on them. 

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When the tomatoes are almost done, toast a thick slice of crusty bread and spread goat cheese or ricotta on the slice.  Heap the roasted tomatoes and pepper slices on top of the goat cheese and sprinkle with salt and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

I didn’t think of it at the time, but throwing a few basil leaves on would have been delicious too.

Roasted Tomatoes, Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese

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Begin with the roasted tomato recipe above.  While the tomatoes roast, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from a butternut squash and cut the squash into (approximately) half-inch cubes.  In a bowl, toss squash cubes with olive oil and salt.  Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes.  To serve, combine roasted squash, tomatoes, and several torn basil leaves, and crumble goat cheese on top.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

We’ve also started canning a tomato puree to use throughout the year for tomato sauce and pizza sauce.

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It will be such a treat to eat our tomatoes year round!

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Summer’s Bounty

Summer crops are here in full force. We’re enjoying late-night summer meals of tomato, basil and mozzarella, plus finding creative ways to make summer squash taste new and delicious.

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We recently combined squash, tomatoes and basil into an incredibly delicious meal of Summer Squash with Baked Eggs alongside Oven-Roasted Tomatoes.

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Nick said, “it was one of the best things he’d eaten in a while.”  The creamy squash and concentrated flavor of the tomatoes were a perfect complement.

Tomorrow evening is CSA pick up.  See ya’ll on the porch!

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When Summer Gives You Squash…

….make squash bread!

After baking this Summer Squash Quick Bread from the Field Notes from Fatherhood blog, we’re left wondering why zucchini gets all the bread lovin’.  Summer squash is a delicious and healthy twist on quick bread.

When we took a long-weekend trip to visit family in New Hampshire & Maine last weekend, we knew we would come back to some mammoth squash. We came back to some mammoth weeds too.

With big ‘ole squash like this, baking is the answer.

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We tried a couple of twists on the recipe, like using an extra half cup of squash (we’d like to try it with even more next time).   We didn’t have all of the cinnamon that it called for, so we used only one teaspoon cinnamon but added a 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.

SquashBatter

Whether you stick to the recipe or try your own twist, this a tasty way to use up your squash, and a great treat to wake up to on a summer morning.

SquashBread

This week at our CSA porch pick up, we’ll have squash bread for our members to try, and we’ll be serving up this refreshing Basil Vodka Gimlet.

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First Tastes of Summer: Pesto

It seems our basil plants are doubling in size every couple of days. 

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We thought we had plenty of basil plants last summer and that we had made and frozen an ample amount of pesto to get us through the winter.  As it turns out, we’re good at eating pesto, and most of it was gone by December.

Beyond the usual uses of pesto on sandwiches or pasta, we love it on roasted potatoes and other veggies.

This year, we’re determine to have enough put away, and we’ve got tons of basil plants intercropped with our tomatoes.  When the basil starts coming in, we make a Simple Summer Pesto.  Find our recipe below.

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Simple Summer Pesto

1/2 cup basil leaves (tightly packed)

2 medium cloves garlic, peeled (more if you like a garlicky pesto)

1/4 cup walnuts

1/2 cup grated parmesan

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil with all other ingredients in a food processor and blend until all ingredients are chopped.  Add remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Scrape down the sides of the food processor as necessary between blending.  It’s easy to adjust the taste by adding more of your favorite ingredient.  Enjoy!

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New Season, New Potatoes

On the night before our Summer CSA kicks off, we figured it’s time for a much overdue update.

This year, we have a 1/4 acre plot at the Breeze Incubator Farm in Hurdle Mills.   With new land comes both opportunity and new challenges.  We love that the space is affordable and already has many of the necessities provided (fence, irrigation, etc.) so we don’t have to start from scratch.  But we are also learning to grow in a different type of soil, experimenting with new crops, and trying to figure out how to balance work and other responsibilities with time at the farm.

So far, we’ve transformed our plot from this:

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To this:

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We are thrilled to have 12 friends signed up for our first Summer CSA.  This year we are offering both a full and half share.  In our first full share box, members will receive: new potatoes, turnips, mustard greens, swiss chard, salad mix, lemon verbena, and basil.

A couple of days ago we harvested our first new potatoes and Nick made the most simple and vibrant potato dish I have ever had.  We’re calling it Lemon Verbena New Potatoes, and here’s the recipe:

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

1lb New Potatoes

6 medium or large cloves Garlic (skins removed, crushed with side of a knife)

12 leaves of Lemon Verbena (hand torn into 3 or 4 pieces)

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Preparation

If potatoes are similar size, leave them as they are.  If they are different sizes, cut them all to a similar size (does not need to be exact).  Cover potatoes in a small pot or sauce pan with cold water to one inch above the potatoes.  Add a tablespoon of salt to the water and bring to a boil.  Lower temperature to a simmer for about 10 minutes, or until largest pieces of potato are easily pierced with a knife. 

While potatoes are simmering, add olive oil and garlic to a saute pan.  Turn burner on to medium heat.  When garlic just begins to sizzle, add lemon verbena leaves.  Stir garlic occasionally so that both sides are toasted to a very light golden brown.  Remove pan from heat.  Garlic will continue to cook slightly, so it is best to remove the pan earlier than you think is necessary and return it to the heat if garlic is not cooked through. 

Strain cooked potatoes and let steam in strainer for about a minute.   Stir potatoes into saute pan with warm garlic lemon verbena oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.  Happy eating!

Here’s what our fingerlings look like right out of the ground:

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And here’s our Lemon Verbena New Potatoes:

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Days are Getting Longer

We recently passed December 21, the winter solstice and shortest day of the year.  It is such a relief to know that each day now, we are gaining more daylight.  We are excited to get back to having time in the evening to be in the garden.  In the middle of summer, we were able to keep working until 9pm!  With our full time jobs, we really need all of the light we can get.

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We’ve been using low tunnels with fabric row cover to keep some plants alive through the winter.  Under the tunnels, we’re growing leaf and head lettuce, arugula and swiss chard.  Outside of the tunnels we have kale, collards, carrots, turnips and beets, which have all survived the weather thus far.  This has been enough to keep us well fed on veggies.  We’ve continued to sell to the Saxapahaw General Store as well.

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All the time inside in the evenings has given us plenty of opportunity to cook with our produce.  While my mom was visiting for Thanksgiving, we made a simple version of a Broccoli  Welsh Rarebit (aka broccoli cheese toast) with Dog & Cart Farm broccoli.

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We savored the few pea shoots that we had from a small fall crop of peas.  We added some to a pumpkin curry with carrots, turnips and kale.

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The Cart is Rolling

We think it’s safe to say, the cart is rolling here at Dog & Cart Farm.

Nick and I shared a sigh of relief this Wednesday when we delivered the last produce boxes of our eight week fall CSA.  We were very uncertain about our abilities in our first real season growing together.  We built in lots of allowances for error – extra weeks, discounted price, including only close friends and family, and the promise to bake bread if we really messed up.  In the end, we delivered eight weeks of produce to eight subscribers, right around the goal value of $20 each week per box.

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We would have loved to offer even more variety, but overall, we are proud.   Most of all, we are SO THANKFUL to our subscribers for their encouragement and open mindedness.  Some subscribers told us they were eating healthier and trying new things.  Their cooking inspired us, like this Linguine with Cabbage and Prosciutto from Sara Nelson (recipe).

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As the sun sets (way too early might I add!) on our first CSA, we are taking some time to reorient ourselves and sleep in a couple of days.

Sunset

We’ll still be selling produce into the winter, with more details coming soon.  If you’re interested in buying produce including kale, collards, carrots, beets, daikon radishes, broccoli raab and more, contact me at caseyjean5@gmail.com.

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