Green Tomato Salsa

This is my year to make green salsa. I posted about the tomatillo salsa I made back in August. This month – it’s was with green tomatoes. It is more golden than green…but just as tasty. As usual for my culinary experiments, I was prompted by getting a key ingredient in my Community Supported Agriculture share:

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Green tomatoes (3 of them…about a pound). I’d also gotten some of the other ingredients: a red jalapeno pepper, some medium ‘heat’ peppers, and 3 garlic cloves. I put everything in the food processor with some ginger preserves, a little salt and cracked pepper, and 3 tablespoons of lime juice…pulsed a few times. Then it cooked for 15-20 minutes. Yummy!

I used it as a savory side for grilled chicken, a salad dressing, and in lieu of stir fry sauce. It didn’t last long!

Favorite Summer Foods

I have two favorite foods that are new-to-me this summer.

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The first is one I started when my freezer was close to overflowing with frozen veggies from the early weeks of the Community Support Agriculture (CSA) season (while I was traveling). I started making green smoothies for breakfast: vanilla soymilk, frozen ‘greens,’ frozen banana, protein (peanut butter, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raw cashews).

I put them all in the Ninja without measuring exactly; the consistency is thick shake to soft serve ice cream…always cold and yummy. Perfect for summer mornings. The past few weeks I have been getting cherry tomatoes at the CSA. I freeze them…and combine tomatoes and greens. Then the banana can be room temperature. The smoothies are a great way to start the day.

The second favorite for this summer is tomatillo salsa. This was the first year for tomatillos from my CSA. We’ve had two weeks where the share included a pound of tomatillos. I had to so a little research to decide what a wanted to do with them. I decided on salsa. The husks of the tomatillos are star-like…I enjoy the shape before putting them into the bin to go out to the compost pile.

I pan roast most of the ingredients in a skillet first.

After they are cooked and cooled – I put them into the Ninja along with the cilantro (one time I used parsley because I had a big bunch of it) to make it into salsa….and then store in glass jars left over from other salsa or preserves. It lasts for a least a week in the refrigerator. The salsa goes fast since I like it for salad dressing, stir fry sauce, a topping for hamburgers, or dip for chips/veggies.

Savoring the flavors of summer!

Gorman Farms CSA

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I am overwhelmed with the weekly bounty of vegetables from the medium share from Gorman Farms CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). My freezer is full because I have made two road trips from Maryland to Springfield, Missouri since the season started – eating very little at home during those two weeks. Now I am closer to home for the rest of the season and anticipate keeping up better week to week…so much good food to eat! I love green smoothies for breakfast (frozen greens, frozen banana, soymilk, peanut butter) on hot summer mornings and there are plenty of frozen greens in the freezer. The farm also has pick-your-own flowers and herbs. Marigolds (the orange flowers in the picture) are pretty….and edible. I ended up just putting them in the center of the table as a little bouquet.

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Each week the message board at the CSA highlights some of the veggies. This week the shishito peppers and tomatillos are new to me. My plan: roasting them and making green salsa.

The share board lists the contents of the share for the week. The picture below is the board from this week. There was a choice between purple and white onions ….and I picked purple since I had white ones left from last week. The melon choice was watermelon or cantaloupe. I picked cantaloupe because I had just bought a watermelon in the grocery store. From the choice section I chose turnips since the last ones I got were great for snacking. I’ll cut them to use for dipping the tomatillo salsa. There were enough reusable bags in my totes to contain the summer squash, cucumbers, eggplant, and tomatillos for weighing… I am avoiding single use plastic entirely when I pick up my share.

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The cabbage white butterflies were thick on one segment of the cut-your-own garden and I went to check what plant was attracting them – catnip! I cut some for my cat and he enjoyed the CSA share this week too!

As in past years – the CSA is providing great food…and the satisfaction of eating produce grown very close to home in a sustainable way.

Ten Little Celebrations – June 2019

There was a lot going on in June – the last of the spring field trip season with Howard County Conservancy, the Wings of Fancy shifts, helping my daughter move from Pennsylvania to Missouri….and there were a lot of little celebrations along the way.

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Springfield Art Museum – The first visit to a museum is always the best…because everything is new. This one was no exception….and it was free!

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Luna moth – Finding a Luna Moth at a rest stop in Missouri was the high point of a long day of driving toward home. I celebrated that it was there….and that it was a pleasant surprise in an unexpected place.

First week of CSA – I am always thrilled to get the fresh produce from the Gorman Farm Community Supported Agriculture. Every meal I prepare with the CSA veggies is a celebration.

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Frogs at Mt Pleasant – Finding the frogs in the small pond is like working a puzzle…you look carefully and finally see….and celebrate. I celebrated along with my hiking groups of elementary aged students too.

Perfect field trip weather at Belmont – I was braced for June field trips to be overly hot…but the weather for all of them at Belmont was near perfect. The pre-schoolers at Belmont celebrated being outdoors and I did too.

My summer office – I moved my home office to a room that doesn’t get direct sun in the afternoon (so doesn’t heat up) and celebrated that the new location provided a better vantage point to the bird feeder while I am working at my computer.

Kombucha – My new food find of the month was mint lemonade kombucha from Wegmans. I didn’t drink the whole bottle all at once…wanted to savor it so I had about 1/3 each day for 3 days. Yummy! I might not get it every week…maybe only for a celebration.

1st monarch butterfly and caterpillar sighting of the year – I celebrated a Monarch butterfly on some milkweed at Brookside Gardens and then a Monarch caterpillar on another milkweed nearby. It’s always a milestone for the butterflies to make it Maryland and start laying eggs. The milkweed is blooming and sweet…plenty of food for the caterpillars.

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1st Zentangle® class is history – I celebrated leading my first Zentangle class…and the tiles created by the students.

Fledglings – I celebrated seeing several fledglings come to our birdfeeder over the past few weeks: downy woodpecker, titmouse, Carolina chickadee, and catbird. Our maple tree seems to be a popular place for many of these birds….or maybe they just come through that tree from the forest and return to the forest the same way.

Community Supported Agriculture – Hurray!

The Gorman Farms CSA summer season started last week. As usual – I am enjoying the bounty and not buying any produce at the grocery store. I’ve had stir fry and salads…seasoned mostly with garlic scapes and spring onions that were part of the share. Will I be able to use all the first share before I pick up the next one? Probably not. I can always use the bunch of kale to make chips; they always getting eaten fast. I’ve discovered that I like to process the salad greens in the Ninja or food processor to make very green slaw rather than tradition bigger chunks of green.

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When I got the veggies home – I just put them in the crisper as they came from the farm. It means there is a little more prep to use them than there would be if I did the first round of prep before I put them in the refrigerator. It also means that they won’t last quite as long as they would in a bag or more airtight container. Maybe I’ll do the work when I pick up the share this week.

CSA Share

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The Gorman Farms CSA season is about done but I am enjoying everything in the shares we are getting. A recent share filled the ceramic top of my stove. There are carrots with more top that carrot – but I like the tops in salads and soups; as soon as I got them home I cut the tops off, cleaned them and put them in a plastic bin with the parsley. I’ll eat the carrot tops first since they won’t last as long as the parsley. The carrots themselves will be eaten with hummus for snacks. They were very muddy. Heavy rain and mud has made harvesting more challenging than usual in our area.

I haven’t tried the watermelon radishes yet but I have enjoyed them in seasons past. We’re still getting a couple of onions every week which fits well with the way I cook. I’m a little behind on the winter squash; at some point I’ll cook them all and freeze the pulp to use like pumpkin. There were three tiny versions of butternut squash in this share; supposedly they are even sweeter and cook faster because they are small. The purple cabbages are small – struggling in the soggy fields probably. The peppers are holding strong; there were bell, banana, and roasting peppers in the share. And then there are sweet potatoes…several pounds every week; I’m saving the ones that are cured to eat after the CSA is over for the year. There was quite a selection at the overage table and I picked the fennel; I’ve developed a taste of it…since joining the CSA several years ago; I’d never tried it before that.

Good eating in October!

Fall Harvest

My freezer and refrigerator are overflowing with foods from my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). In the freezer I have a build up of items that I couldn’t eat quickly enough from the beginning of the season: zucchini and garlic scapes from the beginning, some kale that I chopped up in the food processor and then frozen in a sheet, tomatoes. Each week has brought more bounty, so I haven’t drawn down on much once it went to the freezer. Sometimes I manage to finish off everything from the share the week after I got it.

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Right now the refrigerator is very full. My strategy is to eat the parts that will spoil most quickly, wait a little for the winter squash…but not too long (I already have 2 in the refrigerator)….and try not to freeze anything else. That looks tough with two crispers, two plastic bins, and squashes overflowing into the other part of the refrigerator along with 2 pounds of freshly harvested sweet potatoes.

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What not to like about 3 kinds of peppers and scallions and tomatoes and tatsoi and Romaine lettuce and Napa cabbage and fennel and onions and collards and butternut squash and acorn squash….it’s just the volume that is the challenge.

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I made a yummy ‘pudding’ this morning in the food processor with half of a leftover (cooked) acorn squash: acorn squash, 1 tablespoon almond butter, ¼ cup soy milk, a little honey. I sprinkled cinnamon on it right before I ate it. Yummy!

HoLLIE – Week 5

The Week 5 of HoLLIE (Howard County Legacy Leadership Institute for the Environment) class focused on farming in our area of Maryland, conversations that change hearts/minds/behavior, and protecting watersheds from storm water.

The day started out cool and damp…with lots of birds moving about and making noises. I took a short walk around Belmont, but the birds were not still enough for photography (and the light was not very good. I did get some silhouettes of pigeons in the sweet gum.

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I had better luck with buds on trees

seedpods from last summer,

and the bark on the river birch.

Then it was back indoors for class.

The farms in our area are generally small and generally must specialize to be successful. The country is down to 3 dairy farmers and will probably lose one of them this year. We were encouraged to ‘buy local’ and I felt good that I already have signed up for the 2018 version of the Gorman Farm CSA (community supported agriculture).

By the end of the day – we were all hoping the rain would hold off for our field trip to see different ways Columbia, MD ‘slows the flow’ of storm water runoff. It remained cloudy...but no rain! We stopped at a bioretention area near Wilde Lake to handle the runoff from a large barn so that it does not dig a trench on it’s way to the lake (carrying the slope sediment with it). It was an attractive depression the grasses and other plants with interesting seed pods (this time of year).

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The next stop was a stream restoration where a series of stepwise pools has been constructed that will slow water letting it soak in  with the series of pools or drop sediment before it moves on town to Lake Elkhorn. The project is completed except for plantings.

The last stop was an inline bioretention facility, Homespun pond, and a nearby residential rain garden. I listened but was busy photographing what turned out to be a male and female hooded merganser on the far side of the pond!

It was another good class day!

Previous HoLLIE posts: Week 1, Week 2, week 3, week 4

Overwhelmed with Tomatoes

The tomato season is in full swing at our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). There are different kinds and some weeks there are choices. This week we had a choice between yellow and red small tomatoes; I picked the yellow…and then 2 large heirloom tomatoes. I eat all of them in salads.

The two pounds of red tomatoes that were also part of this week’s share are more challenging. I used some of them in a soup yesterday…but may have some left next Wednesday when there will be more tomatoes coming (in the next CSA share).

I’m freezing the red cherry tomatoes I had left from last week. I just rinse them and put them in a Ziploc. It’s easy to take them out a handful at a time after tomato season for soups if it is cool outside or veggie smoothies if it is a hot day.

The important thing – no wonderful tomato is wasted!