Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pumpkin Bread

After receiving our huge pumpkins last week, I decided to make pumpkin bread. Since large pumpkins aren't exactly king on the flavor front, I thought a quick bread would be a great place to use it up. To begin, I cut up the pumpkin in sections and roasted them in the oven at 35o degrees for an hour or so. After this was done and cool, I scooped out the flesh and pureed it in my food processor. This gave me a ton of puree and I ended up making 4 loaves of pumpkin bread, most of which I gave out for holiday treats. I still had a few cups left of pumpkin puree, which you could easily freeze. I fed the puree to my dogs with their normal food because they really love pumpkin! It is very nutritious for us, as well as for our canine friends.
This recipe is adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unrefined sugar
1. tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 c. vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. water
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (the original recipe calls for allspice, but I didn't have it and pp spice has that in it plus ginger)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, water, vanilla and spices together, then combine with dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the pecans. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a knife comes out clean. Turn out of the loaf pan and cool on a rack.
This bread is moist and lightly spiced. It is great in the morning with a cup of coffee or in the afternoon with a cup of tea, or just as a snack! You could probably substitute another winter squash and it would turn out nicely as well.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wheat Berry Chili

It was cold, snowy and windy Saturday here in Flagstaff and I definitely had a craving for a thick, yummy and spicy stew. I thought a stew would be a perfect vehicle for the wheat berries we got last week and I was right! They are sweet, earthy and chewy and provide great texture in a vegetarian chili. Wheat berries remind me of barley, and like barley, are a great source of dietary fiber. This recipe makes enough for about 4 hungry people.

Before starting the recipe, I soaked a 1/2 c. of wheat berries in 4 c. of water overnight. I also soaked the pinto, black and kidney beans overnight in enough water to cover by 5 in.

1/2 c. wheat berries, soaked
1/2 c. black beans, soaked
1/2 c. pinto beans, soaked
1/4 c. kidney beans, soaked
1/2 onion, chopped
1 portobello mushroom, sliced
1 serrano chile pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1 14.5 oz can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1/2 head spinach, chopped or torn (any winter green would work nicely here)
chile powder
salt to taste
olive oil
For the topping:
sharp cheddar cheese, grated
blue corn chips
To Prepare:
I cooked the wheat berries in the same water I soaked them in. I boiled them on a low flame for about an hour. I kept tasting them to see if they were done. They should taste chewy, but not hard. Drain and set aside. After soaking overnight, I drained the beans and cooked them in about 6 c. of fresh water over a low flame for about 2-2 1/2 hours. Again, taste and check for doneness. If you had a pressure cooker, you could save time here or use canned beans. Once the beans were done cooking, I drained them (reserving the bean water) and left about a cup of their cooking water still in the pot. To this I added the wheat berries and the can of tomatoes. I happened to have some leftover quinoa from the previous night and I threw that in as well. I put this on a low simmer. While that was simmering, I sauteed the onion, serrano, chipotle, garlic, portobello mushroom in some olive oil and salt. When that was done cooking, I added it to the pot of beans. Then I added the spinach. I threw in a little chile powder and some salt to taste. If the stew looks too thick, you could thin it out with some of the reserved bean water. I let it simmer for another 15-20 minutes to let the flavors combine. I served it garnished with grated cheddar cheese, avocado and cilantro. I also added some blue corn tortilla chips for scooping.

This stew definitely satisfied my craving! It was warming, hearty and delicious. I tend to like things spicy, so adjust the flavors to suit your preference.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Drink Your Greens!

Another fresh use of all kinds of greens is to add them to smoothies. By blending the raw greens, the enzymes and vitamins are preserved and they are broken down to be most easily digested. The combination of fruits and greens make a wonderful breakfast or a nutritious snack. Many people swear by the health benefits of a daily green smoothie.
A simple method to prepare a green smoothie is to fill the blender with washed and roughly chopped leafy greens (any kind, or even a mixture of several varieties can be used). Add just enough water or fruit juice to get things moving. Allow the blender to run long enough to create a smooth texture. Then, add the fruit. 3-4 pieces of fruit is a good ratio to a blender-full of greens. A banana is always a good choice for sweetness and texture. Oranges, mango, pineapple chunks, unpeeled apples, or a few handfuls of berries can be added according to flavor preferences. Supplements such as ground flax seed, coconut butter/oil, omega 3-6-9 oil, or any others are other great additions to boost any smoothie creation. Natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, agave nectar, and stevia can also be used. Get creative and have fun with all the possibilities!
Check out the following sites for more recipes and information on the benefits of green smoothies:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Arugula Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese

Here is a delicious salad from the food blog Simply Recipes that would be great in case some of you haven't used your arugula or beets from last week. Remember when you take your beets home to separate the root bulb from the greens. The greens will stay fresher that way. If you're stumped on how to prepare the greens, here is a recipe for beet greens from the NY Times.

In case you were wondering about how good beets are for you nutritionally, here is a brief article from the NY Times entitled Beets: The New Spinach. You will find links to more beet recipes here and instructions on how to roast beets.

Monday, December 8, 2008

So many ways, so little time...

Inspired by our abundance this past week, I am working on compiling a list of 100 different ways you can prepare leafy greens. Note: this does not include salad greens or cabbage, but the heartier and/or bitter greens we get a lot of.

The list is currently incomplete with the hopes that I will reach the goal of 100 very soon. If you have ideas for me, please feel free to share them as well.

Here is the list:

Happy experimenting!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Easy Greens Pizza/Pasta Sauce

Here is an easy way of using up quite a bit of the leafy greens we get in the bag that is also tasty. While I'm not a big fan of traditional pesto, this sauce is very similar to pesto and can be used interchangeably if desired. Excellent with tangy goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, etc. Here is a picture of the sauce used on a polenta-crusted pizza, of sorts.

  • 1 bunch greens, washed and tough stems removed (so far I have successfully made this with lots of different greens: mustard, mizuna, arugula, turnip, beet, chard and any mix; I have not tried it with kale, however)

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed (or roasted if desired)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • Oregano, basil, thyme, crushed red pepper, etc. to suit your tastes

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Blanch greens in boiling salted water. Drain, reserving liquid (if you are averse to the bitterness of the greens, you can discard all of the water and use fresh water for the sauce). Transfer greens to blender with garlic, olive oil and spices. Add enough cooking liquid or water to aid blending (adding by the 1/4 cup as needed)--it's better here to err on the side of less liquid than more. Puree mixture thoroughly. Transfer to a heated skillet and saute briefly to help the flavors meld. You may need to adjust the amount of liquid in the mixture depending on your use: for pizza sauce, it should be thick enough to spread, but for pasta sauce it can be thinner. If you ended up with a sauce too thin, you can simmer it longer to drive off the water, but the more you cook the greens, the fewer nutrients they retain. Also note that some greens (spinach, chard, probably others) contain oxalic acid, which will cause them to discolor (darken) when cooked in cast iron.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Green Stir Fry

We received some really beautiful greens this week as you can tell by these photos, courtesy of CSA volunteer Jo. I tend to make a big, green stirfry when we get a batch of greens because it's easy to throw together and is always delicious. I tend to use whatever veggies I have in my fridge and I serve it atop a nice bowl of quinoa.

Here is the recipe I used last Thursday:
1/2 head broccoli, cut into spears
2 portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 bunch swiss chard, chopped
1/2 head tat soi, chopped
1/4 head Chinese cabbage, chopped
handful snow peas
1 package firm tofu, cubed and lightly fried
I definitely eyeball this sauce so I don't know my exact meaurements, but adjust it to your preference of heat.

1/4 c. Bragg's liquid aminos
2 tsp. red Thai curry paste
big squirt of Sriracha hot chili sauce
chopped garlic
fresh ginger, grated
1 T. of olive oil
some cornstarch or arrowroot powder dissolved in H20 to help thicken the sauce

To Prepare:

Heat some oil in a wok or frying pan. Fry up your longer cooking veggies first. I threw in broccoli and the portobellos. Then in went the onion and the stems of the chard, tat soi and cabbage. Then in went the greens, snow peas and the tofu I had already cooked. When everything is cooked, pour the sauce on top and heat through until the sauce has thickened. This recipe made two hearty servings for two with enough leftover for lunch the next day. Yum!