Cascadian Farm Organic Goodness

WELCOME TO OUR ALMANAC! READ ABOUT ALL THINGS ECO FROM ORGANIC VEGGIE
GARDEN TIPS TO GREEN FAMILY ACTIVITIES.

Also known as a Dutch baby, pannekoeken are Dutch pancakes baked in the oven that become puffed along the edges. They are then filled with every variety of fruit, jams, baked apples and savory varieties with bacon and sautéed vegetables and a bit of shredded cheese and served for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

These were a favorite of mine when I was younger, made by the neighbor across the street. She shared her recipe with my mom one day and my love affair with the simple pancake was set in stone. Pannekoeken are easy to throw together, and they bake just long enough that you can whip them up, toss them in the oven and sneak in a morning shower while they bake.

We are finally seeing peaches here, and I have been patiently waiting for them as others talk of crumbles and cobblers. I ate half of mine fresh with my kids, not bothering with batters and baking, and then the other half were lightly cooked in a pannekoek after being tossed with some raw apple blossom honey for dinner later the same night.

Honey Peach Pannekoeken

¼ cup butter

4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 ½ cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 ½ sliced ripe peaches

2-3 tablespoons of raw honey

Heat oven to 400º F.  Place the butter in a heat-proof 10" or 11" frying pan with rounded edges or cast iron skillet or a 9"x13" glass baking pan and set in the oven.  Beat together eggs and milk.  Add in the flour and salt and whisk until batter is smooth.

When the oven is preheated and butter in your pan is completely melted, carefully pour the batter into the pan.  Close the oven door and bake for 20 minutes until pancake is puffed around edges.  Mix together peaches and honey.  Place peaches in the center of the pancake and continue cooking 5–10 minutes more until edges are a light golden brown.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 servings.

 

Photos by Shaina Olmanson

Hello Friends! We’ve been extremely busy on the farm lately as we’re in the middle of our blueberry harvest. It’s an exciting time for us because we get to see all of our hard work pay off with plump, juicy berries ready to be picked.

With all the excitement surrounding the blueberry harvest, we figured it would be a great time to do a “Best of Blueberries” post, highlighting some of the blueberry posts that we have done over the last year. So here it is, the best of. Enjoy!

Farmer Jim's Organic Advice- Farmer Jim let's you in on his secret to growing such delicious organic blueberries.

Behind The Crop: The Blueberry- Take a look at all the great health benefits of blueberries and why they are referred to as a "super food". You’ll also find some amazing blueberry recipes.

Vanilla Blueberry Almond Bread- Kari Burks shares a wonderful recipe inspired by her favorite, Vanilla Blueberry Almond Pancakes. Thanks Kari!

This past weekend I was on a mission. Inspired by an amazing stack of Vanilla Blueberry Almond Pancakes (at my favorite breakfast spot, the Coffee Cup) I was determined to bake a loaf of bread that combined those delicious flavors. And since I love baking Banana Bread, because it’s so quick and easy, I wanted to come up with a bread recipe for the summer time – using blueberries. This bread makes a perfect breakfast or snack with your afternoon tea. Add a glaze, it’s a tasty dessert. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did – I baked 3 loaves!

1 cup organic blueberries, washed and dried

1/4 cup sliced almonds (plus a few more to sprinkle on top)

1 ½ cup all-purpose flour (plus ¼ cup to coat berries & nuts)

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Pre-heat the oven to 325°. Grease a 8.5” x 4.5” loaf pan.

Toss the berries and almonds with 1/4 cup of flour to keep them from sinking in the batter.

In a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups of flour, oats, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined. Fold in the almonds and blueberries.

Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for 55 - 65 minutes, rotating the pan partway through. Allow bread to cool completely before slicing.

 

Photos by Kari Burks

The farmers market is in full swing, with new vegetables and fruits being added each week. Just this past week we returned from the farmers market with eight different varieties of vegetables to use in our family meals, among them a large bunch of radishes and 3 heads of kohlrabi.

After using radishes on a steak sandwich and making a kohlrabi slaw, I moved on to pickling the rest. I appreciate pickling because it extends the life of the vegetables, but I also like having a bit of tangy crunch on the side of my plate at dinnertime. Something about the taste of a freshly pickled vegetable, still crisp and with a distinct bite.

I like to use pickled radishes and kohlrabi on burgers and barbecue, as well as to top off midday salads or in place of pickles on a sandwich. They're also wonderful alone, just sitting as a salad on the side of my dinner plate.

Pickled Radish and Kohlrabi Chips

1 bunch radishes (10-12)

2 heads kohlrabi

3 small onions

¼ cup pickling salt

1 ½ cups vinegar

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon celery seeds

1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

1 tablespoon mustard seed

Peel the green portion off the kohlrabi. Cut the bulb in half and thinly slice. Thinly slice radishes and onions. Add pickling salt and one quart of ice water together. Pour over the sliced vegetables and allow to sit for at least two hours. Drain the salt water and rinse vegetables thoroughly.

In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, peppercorns and mustard seeds to a boil. Boil for three minutes and pour over vegetables. Store the pickle chips in an airtight container in the fridge. They can be processed and canned as well, or they can be eaten fresh from the fridge. Make at least one day ahead for best results if eating fresh.

Makes 3-4 cups of pickle chips with juice.

Growing up radishes to me were crudités on platter filled with more crudités like carrots, celery and cauliflower. I would eat them every once in a while, curious as to what the red orbs tasted like, and I was always surprised when they had a bite. I still am to this day.

For my husband, his radish experience started in the garden and ended atop a peanut butter sandwich. Yes, he consumed many a peanut butter and radish sandwich in his day, a combination I have not yet tried. Though I do have to say I’m intrigued at the texture addition to the peanut butter sandwich.

Then there is the classic bread, butter and radish combo that so many people speak of, and that is what I was considering when I veered my mind in a similar but different direction and landed on this sandwich, one that started in my garden.

As we readied to leave for a few days, I considered what would spoil while we were gone, and I knew I couldn’t let the cucumbers and radishes go to waste, not to mention the large crop of romaine or the tomatoes that seem to be turning red daily now. A few Greek seasonings later, a sandwich was born.

A Radish Sandwich

2 slices of whole wheat bread of choice

3 radishes, thinly sliced

1 whole romaine leaf

3 thinly sliced tomatoes

2 tablespoons feta cheese

2 tablespoons homemade tzatziki

Layer sandwich: bread > tzatziki > radishes > feta > tomatoes > romaine > bread. Cut in half and enjoy. If you’re looking for a bit more, try grilling the sandwich after it’s assembled until the outside is nice and golden brown.

Makes 1 sandwich.

 

Photos by Shaina Olmanson

Can it be? Is this really the first week of August? Wow, the summer has really flown by. As we look back over the summer, we have had so many amazing recipes come through our organic feed. So, we thought it would be fun to pick our favorites and share them with you. We would love to hear how you enjoy them, let us know what you think in the comment box below.

Easy Summer Dessert: Strawberry-Apricot Galette:

Ginger-Soy Beef Tenderloin Kebabs:

Vanilla Bean Gelato:

Smoked Barbecue Ribs:

Grilled Artichokes and Easy Garlic Aioli:

Photos By Shaina Olmanson

I recently headed up to the Cascadian Farm Home Farm while I was on a trip out to Seattle. As I’ve said before, there’s something magical to me in the whole farm-to-table aspect where I go and pick my own food, bring it home and cook with it.

I can’t say enough how hard it hits home to me in this day and age where so much of our food comes in boxes and Styrofoam packages and is purchased from antiseptic shelves in a large store. Sometimes it’s hard for me with four kids to get out and do the hands-on farm activities that I grew up with, so I try to give my children those activities in the backyard in our family garden. However, berry season is one time of the year where getting out to local farms and picking can and does happen. The strawberries are always sweeter, juicier and tastier.

Cascadian Farm did not disappoint. Surrounded by strawberries being harvested to be sold on the roadside stand, I was instantly comfortable and at home. Farmer Jim instructed us to eat them at will, and he was so accommodating to me, even running to his home to get me a cake pan for my cake. Of course, I was going to let him eat it when it was finished baking.

As strawberry season will soon be ended and raspberry season just beginning, feel free to substitute between the two berries in this recipe for whatever is in season in your area. Have you been to the farm to pick them yet this summer? I can’t wait to tell you more about my trip and experience.

Strawberry-Lemon Coffee Cake

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup butter, softened

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1 teaspoon vinegar whisked in)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon cardamom

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, diced (or whole raspberries)

1 lemon, zested

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

Juice from 1 lemon above

Preheat oven to 350º F and grease a 9x13 baking pan. Cream together sugar, butter and egg. In a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk and the baking soda, then mix into the creamed butter and sugar. Mix together flour, cardamom and salt and then slowly blend into the wet mix. Fold in diced strawberries and lemon zest.

Bake at 350º F for 35-40 minutes until top springs back when touched. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, stir powdered sugar with half the juice from the lemon. Continue adding juice until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle lightly over the cake and serve warm.

 

Photos by Shaina Olmanson

Nothing says summer quite like a camping trip. Fresh air, the great outdoors, and gourmet food!? That’s right, just because you’re “roughing it” doesn’t mean you have to “rough it” when it comes to the food you eat while you’re out there. Although you don’t have a full kitchen to cook in, you can still cook great tasting gourmet meals on the campsite. With a little creativity and some simple food prep before you leave, you’re on your way to the most delicious camping trip you have ever had. Here are some great recipes to try on your next camping trip courtesy of cookeatshare.com.

Photo By Rob Lee

BREAKFAST:

Egg Fusion

LUNCH:

Pork and Hominy Chili

APPETIZER:

Ceviche de Pescado

DINNER:

Parmesan Fish Fillets

DESSERT:

Campfire Apple Pie

Hello friends! We hope you had a great Fourth of July weekend! We wanted to share some exciting news we found out last week. We knew our granola bars were good, but the best? Well, we are excited to announce that Cascadian Farm Fruit and Nut Granola Bars were voted Best Granola Bar by SELF magazine in their 2010 Healthy Food Awards. If you haven’t tried one yet, you’re in for a treat. Click here to find out what store in your area carries them. A big thanks to SELF magazine for the support.

 

 

One of my favorite ways to use up fresh fruit is by making a galette for dessert on a summer evening. These free-form tarts are easy to throw together, and they come in handy for those perfectly ripe fruits that are going to turn to overripe before the kids and I have the chance to get to them.

For these, I used a few apricots I had purchased over the weekend that had been waiting patiently for me. I combined them with the last of our strawberries, not quite enough left to offer to the kids for lunch without a fight ensuing, and in no time, I had a summer dessert coming out of the oven just as we finished eating dinner.

Galettes are also convenient in that you can make extra dough, freeze it and just use it when the moment strikes. It's easy to throw together, and with a scoop of ice cream over the top, it makes the perfect dessert for last-minute guests.

Galette Dough (adapted from Julia Child):

3 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1/3 cup ice water

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½" pieces

In a small bowl, stir the Greek yogurt and the ice water together. Set aside. Place flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt into a food processor with metal blade. Pulse until combined. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the flour mixture. Pulse 8 to 10 times. You should still see butter chunks in the mix as large as pea-sized pieces. Add the yogurt mixture and run just until the dough forms soft curd-shaped pieces.

Remove the dough from the processor, divide in half and press into two round disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours.

Dough can be refrigerated for two days or frozen for up to a month. To thaw, remove from freezer and thaw at room temperature for 20 minutes before rolling between two sheets of parchment.

Strawberry-Apricot Filling:

6 fresh apricots, sliced

1 cup strawberries, sliced

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

 

To assemble the galette:

4 shortbread cookies (about 1/3 cup), crumbled

1 egg

1 teaspoon water

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 400º F. Gently tos s together apricots, strawberries and 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar. Roll out each piece of dough into a 10" circle on a piece of parchment. In the center of the circle spread half the cookie crumbs on each dough circle up to 2.5" from the edge. Spoon the strawberry-apricot filling over the cookie crumbs and then drizzle with honey. Carefully fold the edges of the dough over the filling. Start in one spot and work your way around the circle, creasing every 3 inches or so. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush the egg mixture over the edges of the galette dough. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of turbinado sugar over the crust edges.

Bake on the parchment paper at 400º F for 35-40 minutes, until edges are golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven, cool slightly and serve warm.

Makes two 8" galettes.

 

Photos by Shaina Olmanson

 

 

DSC_0188 by New Amsterdam Market.

The best way to find fresh, local and organic foods that are healthy and delicious is by utilizing your local farmer's market. You can find a lot more than just fruits and vegetables at your local farmer's market too. You can find handmade personal care products, handcrafted items for your home, organic honey, bread, cheese, eggs, milk, meats, wine and even handmade apparel and jewelry. Here are my 6 tips for making the most out of your trip to the farmer's market and getting a great deal while you are there.

 DSC_0215 by New Amsterdam Market.

1- Go Local: Find a local farmer's market that is close to you at Local Harvest. Local Harvest is a great website because once you find a farmer's market in your area, you can find out more about the farmer's and vendor's that you will find there. Sometimes, the farmer's market will have it's own website where you can find out more about the local vendors and products that they provide.

2- Get Planning: Before you head out to the farmer's market for the day, make a meal plan. There are several questions that you should ask yourself when making your meal plan. Do you know what fruits and vegetables are in season? What meals can you make using these ingredients? How much will you need? You will want some flexibility however, since the farmer's market may not have all of the fresh ingredients that you will need.

Orderly by Sweet.Eventide.

3- Come Prepared: Hitting the farmer's market first thing in the morning is when you will have the best selection. Just remember that once the sun in high in the sky, it may get hot. Remember to pack your sunscreen, sunglasses and hat to protect your body from the sun. Also, don't forget to bring your reusable bags or a large basket to carry all of your goodies home in and small bills to pay for your purchases. If you are looking for a great deal, visit the farmer's market much later in the day.

Laurie Walter @ Applooza '08 by Lawrence Farmers' Market.

4- Ask Questions: One of the best things about a farmer's market, that you will never get at the grocery store, is the ability to interact with the farmer directly. Do you want to know more about the farm where the products are produced? Are you wondering how to use an ingredient that you aren't familiar with? Do you want to know if the products are organic? Just ask, you can learn a lot by asking just a few simple questions. You may learn that even though the products aren't labelled organic, doesn't mean that they are a member of the dirty dozen. Many small farmer's can not afford the organic certification, so their products may be organic, but not labeled as such.

DSC_0217 by New Amsterdam Market.

5- Shop Around: Your local farmer's market may have several vendors that sell the same or similar products. Shopping around to view what quality, price and quantity of the products that you are looking for can save you money. Once you find a vendor that you enjoy and create a relationship with, you may save even more money, since the farmer will remember you and is more likely to give you a discount.

Aneka Rasa House Salad 2.17.07 by Nodame.

6-Try Something New: While shopping at your local farmer's market, you will probably encounter fruits and vegetables that are unfamiliar to you. Give these new foods a try, you may just find that you really love jicama, cherimoyas or Chayote Squash.

What tips to do use to make the most of your farmer's market experience? Leave your comments below!

Photo Credits:

Bags Photo: Orderly

Jicama Photo: Nodame

All Other Photos: New Amsterdam Market

What is your biggest weight loss/weight maintenance challenge?

Mine is stopping eating when it tastes too good! I can often resist until it touches my tongue. But then I am gone!

I find it so hard to hit the bottom of the bowl, to take the last bite. So, if I am at home with “more” available, it takes all I can do to not indulge in second and thirds and fourths...

I have eaten a third of a tub of ice cream in the wee hours of the night! (Oh yes – late night eating is when I am at my most vulnerable.)

Here are five ways to battle back when you want to dig back in:

1. Put away the container/left-overs away and refuse to go back. After serving your first, reasonably sized helping, return the tub of ice cream to the freezer and place the scooper in the dishwasher, close the cookie tin and shut the cupboard door, or scoop the leftovers into a container and put it out of sight if it is still too hot to go in the fridge.

2. Have a glass of water with a splash of lemon to clear your palate with a refreshing taste. It feels like a treat and will help you move on instead of going back.

3. Brush your teeth! A sure fire way to get you out of “eating mode” is to brush your teeth. Your teeth feel minty clean and you can focus on something other than that delicious, tempting flavour that was lingering in your mouth.

4. Get moving! Go for a walk. Get up and dance with your kids. Getting outside, or even active inside, will not only help you metabolize your meal, it will get your mind off food.

5. If all else fails, have an apple. If you really feel an urge to keep eating and your teeth just need to chomp on something, grab an apple and enjoy the sweet, refreshing crunch.

Sweet, tart and tasty, there’s nothing quite like raspberries. That’s why we love growing them at Cascadian Farm. They are such an interesting fruit, as they’re one of only a few in which we consume their seeds. As a matter of fact, those little seeds are very high in vitamin E. Not to mention, the rest of the fruit is high in fiber and contains vitamin A, folate, antioxidants, and numerous minerals. We love it when foods are both delicious and nutritious. And that’s why raspberries are such a great fruit to incorporate into your diet.

Here are some of our favorite raspberry recipes.(click on the photo to see the recipe) If you have a tasty raspberry recipe that you would like to share, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave your recipe in the comments section below.

Grilled Chicken and Raspberry Salad

Raspberry Granola Bars

Raspberry-Ginger Cider

Happy Friday friends! Do you have any plans for the weekend? Well, now that the weather is getting nicer, hopefully you’ll be able to get outside and enjoy nature. If you’re like us, there’s no better way to enjoy the outdoors than going for a hike. And there’s no better way to enjoy your hike than with a tasty snack to munch on while you’re on the trails.

Here are some great snack recipes that are easy to prepare and perfect to bag up and bring with you on a hike. Or anywhere else you’re going. Enjoy!

 

Spiced Cereal Trail Mix

Multi Grain Snack Mix

Honey Nut Snack Mix

Sometimes the best things and life don’t have to be difficult, and this translates into food as well. This pasta, for instance, takes only minutes to throw together. The process can be somewhat haphazard, trying to manage the inbox while navigating the scattered toys of the day and boil water on the stove, but the end result is fantastic and satisfies the hunger that's been growing by the minute as it simmers on the stove.

At the end of a hectic day, this is the perfect way to bring in a much calmer evening. Grab the spinach and the first tomatoes from the garden, throw together an easy meal, and then bring it all outside to enjoy the sun before it sets, bringing the day to a close. Even when the rest of the day has been anything but simple, a home-cooked dinner together can be just the thing to slow us down and make us appreciate all the rest.

Sautéed Spinach and Tomato Fettuccini

16 ounces fettuccini

¼ cup olive oil

3 cups fresh spinach, loosely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 cup pasta water

3 tablespoons flat Italian parsley, minced

½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

2 tablespoons butter

Kosher salt

Black ground pepper

Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cups pasta water for the sauce. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a skilled (or in the pasta pot – dried – if you're into conserving dishes). Add spinach and garlic to the hot oil and sauté for 1 minute before adding in the diced tomatoes. Continue to cook until spinach has wilted, about 4 more minutes. Add in pasta water and parsley. Continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Add in drained fettuccini, Parmigiano-Reggiano and butter. Toss to coat pasta. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Photos by Shaina Olmanson

Last week we posted a question on our facebook page asking you, “what’s the tastiest food you ate over Memorial Day weekend?” We were overwhelmed with responses and quite frankly, drooling over some of the foods that were mentioned. Some of you also shared the actual recipes for those foods and that got us thinking.

Most of the time, the organic recipes we feature on our blog are from our fellow bloggers, but why let them have all the fun? We want to know what delicious organic recipes you are cooking for your family and friends. It’s always fun to try new recipes and share them with loved ones. We thought this would be a great opportunity to do just that.

So, leave your recipes in the comments and every couple of weeks we will feature one of them on our blog. We’re excited to hear from you! Have a great weekend!

Since you were all so excited about picking strawberries yesterday, Shaina has a delightful strawberry topping recipe that you can use once you go pick them!

When I was young, my mom would pile all five of us kids in the car.  We'd drive the short distance to a local farm, each of us armed with empty ice cream pails.  Bruce, the farm owner, would then show us how to properly pick the strawberries and place them…in our mouths.  And it never got old, him telling us that he wanted to see strawberry-stained mouths when we returned from the fields.  We would laugh, and then later when my mom wanted help filling all the pails, we'd pop them in our mouths claiming Bruce would be proud.

There was nothing better than the way the first strawberry of the year tasted.  After dusting off the dirt, we'd bite the warm berry off from the tops and eat, still kneeling amidst rows and rows of plants.  Summer was ahead of us, expectant with the promise of lazy days and trips to the beach.

The strawberries that were picked were turned into pies, jams, rhubarb-laden coffee cakes and, yes, sometimes as sauce that was spooned generously over homemade ice cream.  While I enjoyed them all, my personal favorite was the ice cream topping.  It was perfect after a long day out in the hot sun, but I've also been known to eat it over Greek yogurt in the morning these days.  Not too sweet, this version has a hint of balsamic that brings the strawberry to the forefront.

Balsamic Strawberry Sauce

2 cups diced strawberries

¼ cup turbinado sugar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and the balsamic vinegar.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to form small bubbles along the edge.  Add in diced strawberries.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently for 10 to 15 minutes until desired consistency is reached.  The longer you cook the sauce, the more the strawberries will break down.

Remove sauce from heat.  Allow to cool completely.  Serve over ice cream or yogurt.

Makes ½ to ¾ cup sauce.

We can sure tell summer is approaching as we’re beginning to see our organic strawberry plants flowering in our fields. It’s truly remarkable to see the fruit turn from a faint green to a vibrant red right before our eyes. Nature sure is a beautiful thing. We don't quite have any berries ready for picking yet, but soon we hope you'll come see us at the farm and pick your own strawberries!

Aside from being beautiful and delicious, strawberries also have many great health benefits.

• Excellent source of vitamin C

• High in dietary fiber

• Good source of potassium

• High in omega-3 fatty acids

Here are some delicious strawberries recipes for you to try that are the perfect way to welcome summer! Click on the photo to get the recipe.

Sparkling Strawberry-Lemonade Slush

Strawberry Shortcakes

Spa Smoothies

Do you have any delicious strawberry recipes to share?

 

Hi Cascadian Farm fans! You overwhelmed us with such great questions last week! Jim is very busy this time of year, but he's going to take some time to answer a few of your questions each week for the next month.

Q: The first question came from Susan - who asked: "Does organic mean it's not GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)?"

A: Yes! Certified organic means that GMO crops have not been used. The USDA organic standards board does not allow for any GMO crops to be used in organic agriculture. A farmer using GMO seeds would not be able to use the USDA certified organic seal.

Q: Alice said: "I need some suggestions on feeding your plants organically!!!"

A: Alice, we have a saying in organic farming "Feed the soil, so it can feed the plants." Conventional farming uses water soluble fertilizers which are quickly absorbed by the plants (almost like an IV drip of fertilizers).  Organic farming focuses on adding rich organic matter to the soil, so that the various microbes and chemical processes in the soil food web can convert them to available plant nutrients over time. Here are a few ways to add nutrients in the soil:

 

  • Crop rotation: Don't plant the same plants in the same places every year. Different plants pull different nutrients from the soil - so changing up your plants will make sure you're not depleting the same nutrients over and over again.
  • Cover crops and green manures can be grown in the soil as part of the rotation and/or in the winter to reduce erosion, and then tilled or dug into the soil about a week or two prior to planting.
  • Compost: try saving your grass clippings, leaves, and organic waste in a compost pile. You can mix this in with your garden soil each spring to feed the soil food web.  Many municipalities are developing green waste composting programs that take lawn clippings and tree trimmings and turn them into garden compost.  Check out what is available in your area.
  • Mulch: you could add a layer of mulch (at the farm, we cover our blueberry plants with sawdust!) to your garden each year. This will not only help prevent weeds, but last year's mulch, can decompose and feed the soil for this year's plants!  This works best with perennial plants.
  • There are several organic blended fertilizers, both granular and liquid that can be used.  These are generally based on one or a variety of organic “waste” products like scraps from fish and poultry processing.  Check the internet and local resources to find what is available in your area.

Q: Michelle asked how she can keep weeds at bay in her organic garden, without using synthetic chemicals or herbicides. We got Jim on camera to answer this question:

Thanks for all of your questions! There are a lot of them, but Jim will do his best to share his insights with all of you as he has time.

Family meals are more than just the act of sharing food. Meal time is the perfect time for families to reconnect with each other. It strengthens families, and makes your relationships with each other stronger, healthier and happier. It isn't surprising to hear that families that eat meals together have children with better grades, more of a positive outlook on life and a healthier diet.

How does one prepare meals that are healthy, vegetable based and something that everyone in the family will enjoy? It's actually really simple with a few creative tricks up your sleeve. Here are my favorite three ways you can create meals that everyone in your family will enjoy so much that they will be asking for seconds.

 

Photo via Flickr

 1- Spice It Up: It is amazing how a little bit of spice, can take a meal to a whole new level. If you are serving organic baked potatoes with sour cream as a side dish, add a little fresh cut dill from the herb garden. Having family pizza night? Add fresh oregano and basil from your herb garden. By drizzling your favorite steamed and sauteed vegetables with organic extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, you can give take veggies a whole new taste. A tad of organic brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon can turn a sweet potato from ho hum to yum yum.

Photo Via Flickr

2- Get Saucy: People enjoy food that tastes good. If your family isn't crazy about eating steamed veggies, it's time to get creative. You can add a homemade light cheese or teriyaki sauce, to get anyone craving those goodies from the garden. If you having raw veggies with your afternoon meal, add a little dip. Children especially love to dip their foods. Some excellent options are homemade ranch, strawberry vinaigrette, peanut butter, hummus, sour cream, soy sauce or tzatziki.

 

 3- Dress Up a Salad: Many children and some adults may not be too excited to find a salad on their dinner plate. The ingredients that you put in the salad and the dressings that you use, can have a huge positive impact. Try adding fresh organic strawberries, grapes and apple slices to a salad and then drizzling with a sweet strawberry vinaigrette dressing. Another favorite at our home is a salad dressed with organic green apple slices, almond slivers and a homemade honey Dijon dressing. These salads always have everyone asking for more.

What tricks do you use to spice up family meal time?

At Cascadian Farm we take pride in knowing that we not only provide you and your family with the best organic foods, but that we also provide you with knowledge about the benefits of organic foods. If you’ve ever been to our farm, you may have taken the farm tour. The purpose of the tour is not only to explore the farm, but also to teach people about organic farming. It’s important to have an understanding of what makes organic foods different than conventionally grown foods when you’re deciding what to feed your family.

So, this week we want you to ask any burning questions you have about anything to do with organic farming and/or organic foods. We will then choose some of your questions and ask Farmer Jim himself to answer. Next week, we will post his answers. This is your chance to ask a real organic farmer anything you’ve ever wanted to know about organic. Ask away…

Whether you're so far removed that you're actually craving a winter vegetable again, or you're just looking to use them up to get out of the house, this frittata is the answer. There is nothing about it that screams "It's COLD outside," but rather, it tells of springtime with its baby spinach and spring onions and sings of summer soon to come.

Rather than milk or water, I chose ricotta for a mix-in to the eggs. I love its velvety texture and the richness it imparts. Better yet, make your own. If you aren't interested in the ricotta, you can substitute by adding an extra egg and then mixing in 2 tablespoons of half-and-half or milk.

Spinach and Potato Frittata

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes

4 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup spring onions or ramps, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 ounces fresh organic spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil/butter

½ cup ricotta

7 large free range organic eggs

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

Pepper to taste

¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano

2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped finely

Chop potatoes into ¼" chunks. Heat the 4 tablespoons of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and sauté for 10 minutes. While potatoes are sautéing, beat together ricotta, eggs and kosher salt and pepper, if desired, in a separate bowl. Set aside.

Turn broiler on to high. Add in chopped spring onions and continue to sauté for another 10 minutes until potatoes are tender. Stir in minced garlic and baby spinach and continue to cook until spinach wilts. Pour egg and ricotta mixture over the potatoes and spinach. Cover and cook 8 minutes until eggs are nearly set. Remove lid and place under broiler, about 5 inches from the heat source, for 5 minutes or until top begins to brown evenly. Remove from broiler.

Immediately top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and chives. Slice into wedges and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

 

As the cold of winter warms, the very first vegetables make their appearance, and there is nothing better than the taste of the very first green after months of squash and potatoes and cold storage apples. Here, artichoke and asparagus are brought together with a squeeze of lemon and a touch of feta cheese, a pasta that is sure to awaken your taste buds after their winter hibernation.

As far as artichokes are concerned, there is so much plant available that goes to waste as we pull out the sought-after, tender hearts and discard the crunchy petals. This recipe makes use of both, creating a delicious crunch on the side with a bit of aioli. It's like carrots with ranch dressing of April.

Grilled Lemon, Asparagus and Artichoke Spring Pasta

10 ounces dry pasta of your choice, cooked al dente

3 organic artichokes

1 bunch organic asparagus

1 ½ organic lemons

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup organic cream

¾ cup organic feta cheese crumbles

Salt and pepper

Halve artichokes. Fill a medium-sized bowl with water and squeeze ½ lemon into the water. Soak artichokes in the lemon water. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut the very tips off the artichokes. Transfer the artichokes to the boiling water and boil for 12-15 minutes until tender. Remove from water and drain.

Heat grill to medium heat. Melt butter and mix with juice from ½ a lemon, a pinch of salt and cracked pepper. Place artichokes and asparagus on the hot grill. Brush with melted butter mixture and turn the vegetables frequently. Cook for 8-10 minutes until slight char starts to form. Remove from grill. Cut asparagus into one-inch pieces. Pull large green petals off the artichoke and set into a small serving bowl. Quarter the hearts and remove the bitter purple insides.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic. Sauté for 30-45 seconds and immediately add asparagus pieces and artichoke hearts and juice from remaining ½ lemon. Stir to coat with oil and garlic. Toss in pasta. Add heavy cream and feta. Stir until feta starts to melt and cream is warm. Remove from heat. Serve immediately. Serve asparagus petals with easy garlic aioli (recipe below) on side.

Makes 4 servings.

Easy Garlic Aioli

¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ teaspoon dijon mustard

½ teaspoon lemon juice

Cracked pepper

Use a mortar and pestle to smash garlic into a fine paste. Transfer to a bowl. Mix in mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and pepper with the garlic. Serve.

 

Spring into summer is such an exciting time at your local farmers’ market. Fruits and veggies are plentiful and if you’re like me you often find yourself bringing home way more than you can possibly eat in a few days. I’m ashamed to say that I am guilty of throwing out (sometimes indistinguishable) greens left in the crisper drawer of my fridge. Which, by the way, is a great reason to start your own garden – you can simply pick the veggies as you are ready to eat them. But since most of us still don’t have the space to grow every fruit and veggie we like to eat, it’s best to know the proper way to store all that great spring produce.

Here are a few tips for storing some of my favorite spring veggies:

  • The quintessential spring veggie, asparagus, should be kept in a plastic bag with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel. It is best eaten within 3-5 days.
  • Lettuces should be kept unwashed in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer; excess moisture on the leaves can promote bacteria. Keep away from apples or pears which emit a gas that can brown leaves (they also cause other veggies to ripen faster).
  • Artichokes last a week or so, in a plastic bag in the fridge. If the leaves start to open up us as soon as possible.
  • My personal favorite, green beans, stay crisp and fresh refrigerated in an airtight container.

While most vegetables keep best in low temperatures and high humidity (like in the crisper drawer), tomatoes actually lose flavor in the refrigerator. They are best kept in an aerated basket on the counter.

Check out this neat tool I found on Real Simple: The “What’s in Season” tool is not only a great visual of what it in season for spring, summer, etc. it also provides tips for selecting, storing and even preparing those fruits and veggies.

 

Ahh the tomato... or is it tomah-to. Well, tomato, tomah-to. Regardless of how you choose to pronounce it, this wonderful crop has so many great benefits. Not to mention, they taste good on about anything. And with organically grown tomatoes, like the ones we grow on our farm, you won’t have to worry about any pesticides or other chemicals being used to grow them.

Here are some of the great vitamins and nutrients found in tomatoes:


•    Contain high levels of Lycopene, which is a vital anti-oxidant.

•    Great source of Vitamin C.

•    Contains beta-carotene (did you think that was only found in carrots?)

•    Great source of potassium.

As you can see, tomatoes are quite the crop and they can play a great roll in a healthy, balanced diet. That’s why we plant lots of them on our farm. And now that spring is here, we can't wait to enjoy this delicious fruit…or is it a vegetable?  Tomato, tomah-to. Have a great week everyone!

Here are a few delicious recipes for you to try that incorporate organic tomatoes.  And as always, if you happen to have a great recipe you'd like to share, leave it in the comment box below or post it on our facebook page.

Green Beans with Tomatoes and Feta

 

Vegetarian Chili

 

Roasted Tomato-Corn Chowder with Cilantro Pesto

 

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