Homegrown Chili

Homegrown Everblossom chili ingredients

Homegrown Everblossom chili ingredients

This is the most locally produced chili I could possibly imagine – thanks to my family. My Dad raised the beef, my sister the beans, garlic, tomatoes, chili pepper, onion and kale. My husband’s grandpa’s farm grows the corn and roasts the corn meal for the sweet corn muffins I serve with it. Put together with a half-decent recipe, it makes for a chili better than good. If I think too much about it, the effort put forth to make that meal is astounding, and I’ll get sappy and perhaps attach more meaning to hamburger and beans than is deserved. On the other hand, I can’t help but believe that when so many people work so hard to perfect their product, you can’t help but taste that difference.

I used a mix of Elaine’s dried black beans and cranberry beans. Please note that the cranberry beans take extra time to soften and you may want to cook those separately ahead of time. Cooking them ahead would greatly reduce the time it would take to simmer the combined chili. In a slow cooker, I cooked the beans all together in the chili and it just took a bit longer for it all to be ready — after I soak the beans and brown the beef, I allow everything to simmer in a slow cooker, 4 hours on high and 2 on low.

1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pound ground beef
1 quart whole tomatoes and their juice, chopped roughly or squished with your hands
2 cups beans, black and cranberry beans, pre-soaked
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 dried chili, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons basil
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
1 bunch kale, chopped small

Saute the onion, garlic and beef until browned. Don’t drain it and transfer all of it to the slow cooker. Add the tomatoes and their juice.

squishing the tomatoes

squishing the tomatoes

 

Add the beans and all the spices – below, Ava presents a mix of pre-soaked cranberry beans and black beans.

Ava and the beans

Ava and the beans

 

Chop the kale very small if you want to hide it from others who do not understand. I used the curly kale. When cooked, it becomes impossible to detect and gives a huge vitamin boost to your chili!

the incredibly vanishing kale

the incredible vanishing kale

Cook together in the slow cooker until the beans are tender to chew, approximately 4 hours on high and 2 hours on low. As I mentioned, the cranberry beans will take longer because they are bigger and firmer.

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Black Bean Tortilla Pie

Tortilla Pie with Everblossom Black Beans

Tortilla Pie with Everblossom Black Beans

My dear Audrey says this is the best Shepherd’s Pie she’s ever had. Like her, it is a sweet and spicy delight. You could also call it a Mexican lasagna with tortilla’s instead of noodles. Everblossom Farm’s dried beans are the star of this show. To prepare them for the recipe, rinse and drain a few times to clean the beans well. Then put them in a crock pot, cover with water and cook them on high for 4 hours. I had to cover with water a few more times as they exxxppaaannnnd greatly – 4 cups of dried beans grew to 7 cups of soft beans. You want to cook them until you can squish them with your fingers under pressure.

Serve this with your lovely Everblossom greens and a little sour cream. Vamos!

1 1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
16 ounces (2 cups) tomato sauce
16 ounces (2 cups) Everblossom black beans (rinsed and pre-cooked)
1 cup whole kernel sweet corn
3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
6 10-inch flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown beef and onion in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add tomato sauce, beans and corn; mix well. Stir in all of the spices except the red pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes and add red pepper if desired.

Spread 1/2 cup of beef mixture on the bottom of a greased 13×9 casserole dish, or I like to use a round foil pan as pictured (because the tortillas are round). Top with 3 tortillas, overlapping as needed (or just stacked up in the round foil dish). Layer with 1/2 of the remaining beef mixture and 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beef and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

This dish freezes very well and I have always made at least two at a time to save one in the freezer.

Sweet Corn Salsa

Evrblossom Sweet Corn Salsa

Evrblossom Sweet Corn Salsa

Who doesn’t love a gift with purchase? This week our members get a little jar of sunshine with their share – a quart of canned Everblossom tomatoes.

There’s nothing like heat in your food to help warm up on the 20 degree days of December. So, let’s try a salsa recipe; it uses those tomatoes, plus the garlic, cayenne peppers, and onion you have been getting. The garden-fresh taste of these tomatoes will wake you up from your winter hibernation, but the magic ingredient in this recipe is the sweet-as-honey corn we froze this summer (or a nice organic choice form the supermarket).

1 medium onion, diced small

1 smaller-size clove of the giant Everblossom garlic, minced

1 cayenne pepper (little dried red), seeds removed and minced

5 or 6 medium heirloom tomatoes, or the equivalent, diced – about the contents of your quart jar, drained and chopped

1/2 cup frozen sweet corn – thawed

1 large handful cilantro leaves, stems removed and chopped

Salt to taste – I like almost a 1/4 teaspoon

Squeeze of lime juice from the quarter of a lime

Add all ingredients to a large serving bowl and mix well. Serve with tortilla chips.

Kitchen Notes:  Try making your own tortilla chips! Brush flour tortillas with olive oil; salt lightly; cut into triangles and bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.

Audrey likes sweet corn salsa

Audrey likes sweet corn salsa

Baked Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip

When I think of New Year’s Eve. I think of dip. French onion dip, blue cheese dip, cream cheese and pepper jelly; it’s all about dip to me. I especially love a baked veggie dip like this one, because it’s dip that I can pretend is a square meal. Add a whole grain, baked pita chip or a multi-grain Scoop and it’s just down right health food.

For a cocktail party I had years go, I made a similar spinach dip, but I winged it and threw all the ingredients in the food processor and gave it a whirl. The problem was pureed greens like spinach just turn the whole dish green. It tasted fine, but no one was brave enough to try the swampy green muckity-muck. Please don’t do that – if you must add the spinach only after you process. But, I really suggest you follow the instructions below for creamy dip success. Tostitos Scoops optional but highly recommended .

Haaaaaappy New Year!

Baked Artichoke Dip with Chard and Kale

Baked Artichoke Dip with Chard and Kale

8 cups fresh Swiss chard, spinach or kale
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon’s zest
2 14-ounce jars artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) Parmesan, freshly grated, divided
3/4 cup low-fat sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon bottled cayenne pepper sauce (Or, 1 dried Everblossom chili, seeds removed, finely minced)
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter or spray a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Blanch the greens of your choosing in boiling water until wilted and bright green – a few minutes. Drain and squeeze out as much water as you can.

In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients with just 1 cup of the Parmesan. Place into the buttered casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes.

The last 5 minutes add the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan to the top. Serve hot or cold!

I’m dreaming of a green christmas

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I am so glad I will not have to go without greens like this during the long cold winter.  It’s not too late to sign-up for Everblossom Farm’s Winter shares. The first pick-up is this Saturday, November 16. You can find more information at the link below.

And, please put one of these on your list for Santa — Chef’n “Herb ‘n Shears” from http://www.jcp.com. It has made it so easy for me to make salads we really love. It’s serrated plastic, so use it right in the salad bowl and just push down to chop.  Mmm, salad you can eat with a spoon.

Chef'n shears for easy chopped salads

Chef’n shears for easy chopped salads

Award-winning Applesauce

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Our pretty pink applesauce placed second at the Dillsburg, PA Farmer’s Fair! This was not a taste test; it was a beauty contest. Elizabeth and I are very proud.  We would like to thank Ben Wenk at Three Springs Fruit Farm for the pink and delicious Honeycrisp apples. We won a red ribbon, $3.50 (which we will share) and the the rights to call our stuff Award-Winning!

Second Place!

Second Place!

ABOUT TOMATOES: In other news, our tomatoes did not place in the hotly contested category of “cut tomatoes”. Again, it is a beauty contest and although we had an assortment of heirloom color, the judges seemed to like the jars with no seeds. I will have to dig deep within myself and determine if I have the patience to remove all seeds if I want to compete again next year.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

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By cooking these potatoes in their skin and then peeling them, you benefit from more nutrients being absorbed into the potato’s flesh. Plus, they are much easier to peel after they’ve been cooked; just rub them with a paper towel or a butter knife. This makes a large batch and is great for serving half and freezing half for later. We reheat a lot of pre-made meals from the freezer. For this reason my man, Eric, says our dish is really thrice baked. Har Har.

For fluffier boiled potatoes, after you drain the water, cover the pot with a double thickness of paper towels and the pot’s lid. In ten minutes, steam will be absorbed by the towels and your potatoes will be dry and fluffy.

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Serves 12

2 1/2 quart boxes of Everblossom new potatoes (about 7 pounds)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 pieces of bacon, chopped
2 small onions, finely chopped
1/2 pound sharp white Cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Scrub the potatoes well and rinse under cool running water. Start them in a pot of cool water and bring to a boil together for the most even cooking. Boil in salted water for about 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.

When the potatoes have cooled, use a paper towel to rub off their skins. Place the potato flesh in a large bowl and add 1 stick of the butter, the sour cream, heavy cream, salt, and pepper and mash until chunky-smooth.

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Fry the chopped bacon until the fat is melting and then add the onions. Stir until the onions are softened and absorbing that bacon flavor, about 5 minutes.

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To the mashed potatoes, add the bacon and onions, cubed white Cheddar and eggs and mix thoroughly.

Butter two 8×8-inch casserole dishes (or a single 9 by 13-inch casserole) with the remaining tablespoon of butter.

Place the potato mixture in the prepared casserole. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges and heated through and the top is lightly browning. Serve hot.

Farmers’ Fairs and the Canning Competition

Eat Happy!

Eat Happy!

Everblossom Harvest Party

This weekend is one big harvest celebration. Elaine’s Everblossom Farm CSA Potluck Picnic and Harvest Party is Saturday, October 19, from 12:30 to 4:00. Details are available on our website: www.everblossomfarm.com. It’s rain or shine and friends and members are invited. If you’re curious about the Organic CSA and the farm, please visit us.

Dillsburg Farmer’s Fair

Also this weekend is the Dillsburg Farmer’s Fair.  My friends and I have grown up eating the fair food on the street, watching the pumpkin catapulting and the Children’s Parade on Friday night, marching with our high school band in the big parade on Saturday night, walking through the vintage tractors, cars and petting zoo. I am even close personal friends with a previous Farmer’s Fair QUEEN!

This year we are taking part in new ways. First, my husband Eric’s South Mountain Cycle Shop will ride their motorcycles in the auto and tractor parade on Saturday at 3:00 pm. Check them out at www.southmountaincycleshop.com.com.

Stiff Canning Competition

Secondly, this year I have bravely entered the Farmer’s Fair canning competition in two categories; Cut Tomatoes and Applesauce. Right away I must give credit to my dear friend, canning partner and CSA member, Elizabeth. She and I learned to can this year and had an awesome experience doing it. Thanks to her adventurous spirit with a careful and studious approach we learned how to safely and successfully store away tomatoes, apples and peaches. Also, special thanks to my Aunt Jeanne who gave us a hands-on lesson in canning tomatoes that I previously posted about.

Now that I have delivered my blue ribbon acceptance speech…please let me tell you I have not often been so intimidated as I was Tuesday night at the community hall dropping off my two fine little quart jar specimens for the judging.  I nervously chose the wrong line at first and after switching back and forth to fill out the proper forms, I found myself in front of two ladies taking their jobs as serious as a heart attack. They soberly took my jars and wrote out the tiny tags as I looked around at the other jars full of perfect little globes of beets, cherries, I’m not sure. I had a clear and strong urge to pick up my jars and apologize. Pretend like the whole thing was a big misunderstanding.

There is no doubt; I am an optimist. It’s not a bad way to go through life, but sometimes makes me feel silly as I was already regarding our pretty jars as “award-winning”. Just as any good mama should, I think they are beautiful — marbled yellow, orange and red heirloom tomatoes, and pretty applesauce that is pink from cooking the Honeycrisp apples in their skin. It made me smile (nervously) at my second thoughts that night and desire to rescue my babies and just take them right back home. Who needs to be judged anyway.

But, I was brave. I left them there and I will find out tomorrow how we stack up. If we lose, I will try not to make excuses about local politics. If we win, I will tell the world about it here. Stay tuned!

A Better BLT

a better BLT

It’s hard to improve on a classic, but we certainly can take the standard Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato sandwich and maximize those few ingredients.

Tonight’s dinner conversation with our dear little girl started with, “What’s a BLT?” Seems like a great place to start here too:

  • B is for Bacon from Nell’s Butcher Shop in East Berlin, PA. Oh, it’s pretty prefect. Just look at it.
  • B.2 is for Bread, really good “artisan” bread from Lark Rise Bakery’s CSA based out of Loysville, PA. Toast your bread and spread on your favorite mayo.
  • L is for Lettuce – in this version it’s Everblossom’s organic peppery arugula and salad mix. Its texture and spice makes the sandwich pop.
  • T is for a sweet, ripe, organic heirloom Tomato from Everblossom Farm.

Earlier in summer when basil is also brightening our table, it is also my secret  ingredient to brighten my BLT. Use it in place of lettuce or alongside Elaine’s butter crunch variety. Yuh uh um.

 

Buttermilk Dressing served over a salad of boiled potatoes, tomatoes and peas

A simple salad of boiled potatoes, tomatoes and peas drizzled with buttermilk dressing

A simple salad of boiled potatoes, tomatoes and peas drizzled with buttermilk dressing

STILL have buttermilk left over? What do you like to make with it? And, why do they sell it in such big containers? We originally bought buttermilk to make some good old fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch sugar cakes and then went searching for inspiration on what to do with the rest. Cinnamon Bread and Eggplant Gratin (see previous post) did not use it all. So, we moved on to salad dressing…try it over this week’s peppery salad mix!

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup buttermilk

3 teaspoons champagne vinegar

1/4 cup chives, finely chopped

Pinch of salt

Liberal amount of freshly ground pepper