Tag Archives: recipe

Stuff Your Peppers for a Snow Day

The sun’s out today but we won’t be working in the fields. They’re still blanketed in this week’s super snow, giving me time to post about one of our favorite winter meals, Stonebridge Stuffed Peppers, which we made for last night’s dinner. (While they were baking, the sky turned an amazing shade of blue.)

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The first blue sky we’d seen in days, brilliant blue right before twilight, framing the evergreen and apple trees by the guesthouse, a former chickenhouse.

I wrote about this recipe a year and a half ago because Women Thrive Worldwide, an organization that promotes women’s opportunities and rights in developing countries, included it in their $2 a Day recipe campaign to highlight the fact that millions of people live on very little income—2.5 million on less than $1 a day.  You can view the recipe here on their website or with more pictures here on mine.

The only thing I’d add now is to put ¼ inch of water in the bottom of the pan to help the peppers steam as they bake, especially if you’re making them without some kind of salsa or marinara on top.

We grow our own peppers and the vegetables we use to stuff them. We make a lot of our own cheese. If we didn’t, this recipe would cost more than $2 to make in this country, but it is still a very low cost, healthy meal that can be prepared quickly, is filling, and tastes great the next day too.

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A poblano pepper on the vine. We trellis these peppers because the vines grow four feet high and are filled with peppers.

Stonebridge Stuffed Peppers also takes advantage of how easy it is to freeze peppers, the wonder vegetable of what we call “high summer”—August and September and even into October until the first frost on Colorado’s Front Range. We use poblanos but any pepper with a filling-sized cavity, sweet or hot, will do. To freeze peppers, you can either core them and freeze them whole as shells for winter stuffing or core and slice them to freeze for sautéing in stir fries or sauces. No blanching required. You don’t even need to thaw them before using. Just pull the shells out of their freezer bags and fill. How easy is that?

What also makes stuffed peppers remarkable is that you can fill them with whatever you have on hand. Really. Our filling is usually a quartet of whatever cooked grains/grated or sliced raw veggies/cheese/nuts we have in the fridge and pantry.

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Baskets of poblanos in the barn

If you’ve got the ingredients ready to go, it only takes a few minutes to put this dish together. I’d already cooked the quinoa at lunch, so I threw the ingredients together while John walked out to the bluehouse to get spinach.  Talk about easy. It’s the equivalent of the 1950s casserole but, with its fresh ingredients, much more healthful. I hope you’ll try them! And then let us know: What do you stuff in your peppers?

Note: For people in the Boulder area, Stonebridge is hosting the monthly Mile High food swap this Sunday. You can see a video of last fall’s Stonebridge swap here. We’d love to have you join us so sign up here!

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Our 21st Season Opens and the Greens are Glowing

May 12th was the first pick-up of our 21st CSA season and the biggest opening pick we’ve ever had. With April’s warm weather, many of the crops that normally aren’t ready until a few weeks later were already big enough for harvesting. We knew the fall-planted spinach was ready because we’d been picking it for ourselves for a couple weeks and it was starting to show signs of bolting, which happens when the weather gets warmer and the plant senses that it better go to seed because its days are numbered.  We were also expecting to pick radishes, turnips, and green garlic for opening day, as well as lettuces from the rebuilt bluehouse, two beautiful, big heads per share. Still, we thought the pick wouldn’t take very long and we’d have some extra time for weeding before the subscribers showed up at 11 AM to start the season.

But when we got to the field early Saturday morning and took the row cover off the other garden greens, we discovered that they were ready to pick as well. The bok choi and totsoi especially don’t like warmer weather, which is why it does better in the fall here on the Front Range. We plant it in the spring anyway, just in case the weather is cool, but with April’s high temperatures, those greens were raring to go.

So as the bartering members thinned and harvested pounds and pounds of urgent greens, the bikers rode full trugs into the barn for two of us to weigh as we tried to figure out where it all could go. The lettuces alone filled the shelves of the cool room and we had twice as much spinach as would fit the large bins we’d planned. With the trugs coming in as fast as we could weigh them, we couldn’t believe this was opening day.

When a few members showed up a little before 11 AM, eager for the first of the season’s vegetables, we had to ask them to take a short walk while we finished getting the barn ready for its 21st season. But at the stroke of 11, everything was ready to go. Each type of vegetable was weighed or counted, labeled, and displayed in the barn under the big chalkboards that declare how much of each a subscriber should take.

As we gathered the new members outside the barn for a farm tour and barn talk, we apologized for giving so many greens on opening day. It hadn’t been our intention to overwhelm people with first greens, but the weather had trumped our plans. Besides the beautiful spinach and lettuce, people would weigh and bag greens with which they were probably less familiar, like spicy greens, bok choy, and totsoi. Graciously, everyone assured us that lots of greens on opening day was fine, but I did notice that we had more of the unfamiliar veggies left at the end of the day than the old stand-bys.

That’s okay. The chickens were happy with the leftovers and we’ll slowly educate our members about these other nutritious and delicious greens through our recipe email list and tips in the barn. Eating seasonally takes some getting used to and we’re patient with that change. We don’t want our members to feel guilty for not eating every last leaf. Share with friends, we say, or bring us your compost and we’ll put it back into the soil.

Last Saturday, the greens weren’t quite so urgent, giving members a chance to catch up with the haul the week before. We still gave spinaches and lettuces but we added only bok choy, now bigger with more substance to its toothsome stems. We hope people will adjust to this versatile vegetable, which can be used in similar ways to celery in stir-fries or salads. We like it steamed with sesame peanut sauce, as in the recipe below.

Despite the rush to get everything in that morning, we were glad to offer such bounty on opening day. As a share-the-harvest farm, we want people to know that we don’t base what they get on the market value of the food but instead share what the garden has to offer each week. In the early part of the season, that means quite a few greens–including the best spinach anyone has ever eaten–but don’t worry: the brassicas are on their way!

Sesame Peanut or Cashew Sauce

This sauce is great over steamed vegetables but can also be stirred into rice with raw, slivered veggies and baked in an oiled 9×13 pan, covered with foil, for 45 minutes at 375.

In food processor or blender, mix the following:

1 cup natural, unsweetened peanut or cashew butter, smooth or chunky

¼ cup rice vinegar

6 Tbl honey

2 tsp sesame oil

½ cup water

½ cup tamari or soy sauce

1 Tbl fresh ginger grated or 1 tsp dried

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp thai basil, dried

A few shakes of hot pepper flakes to taste

Warm gently in sauce pan until heated through and drizzle over steamed vegetables.

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The Pumpkin’s in the Oven–Let Thanksgiving Begin!

I just put my pumpkin and butternut squash in the oven to bake, signaling the beginning of preparations for the Thanksgiving meal. But not really. Those vegetables were planted last spring, tended all summer and harvested this fall. They’ve been stored in the closet of our coldest bedroom until today. Now they’ve been halved or quartered, seeds scooped out for the chickens, and are roasting in the oven at 350 for a good one and a half to two hours, until the flesh is soft enough to spoon into bowls for the pumpkin pies I’ll make on Wednesday and the squash pear soup I’ll put in the crockpot early Thanksgiving morning.

I love this meal and I do love having Thanksgiving with family and friends in our Sunflower Community Meal. But I have to admit, it can be a lot of work, especially Thanksgiving morning when we’re up before dawn to get the turkey in the oven—something I, as a vegetarian, don’t even eat!

So why do I do it? Of course, spending the day at home on the farm with people I care about is a big reason—the biggest one, I’m sure. But I have to admit, I do love the food, especially my traditional Thanksgiving recipes (some of which you can read here from last year’s Thanksgiving blog).

And I don’t make the meal by myself. Everyone who comes brings something delicious, like my brother-in-law’s pumpkin bread, one sister’s blue corn muffins and another’s gingerbread cookies, my mother’s cranberry relish and pecan pie, and our British friends’ amazing trifle.

But beyond a wonderful day with family and friends, it’s possible I host Thanksgiving because I can’t imagine pie from canned pumpkin. I’m sure it tastes just great, but I made a commitment to pie from scratch a long time ago and I can’t go back now. Just for this pie, we grow heirloom Winter Luxury pie pumpkins with sweet, thick flesh. They’re beautiful in the field, like gemstones of the autumn. Once the vines die back, we bring the pumpkins into the barn to await the end of October for our CSA members to share.

Besides the joy of growing them, I like getting pumpkins and squash out of the bedroom closet, chopping them in pieces and scooping out the seeds for the chickens. I like the way those vegetables feel in my hands, I like their fall colors, and I love how easily they go from raw to cooked. I always marvel that people long ago decided squash was something that could be eaten and even made into a pie, at one time considered more a meal than a dessert.

And now pumpkin pie marks the Thanksgiving holiday, along with other goodies. Maybe the turkey holds that spot for meat eaters, but for me, it’s the pie. I even eat it for breakfast the morning after the Thursday feast.  Here’s my recipe, adapted a long time ago from the back of the Libby’s can.

Stonebridge Homemade Pumpkin Pie

A day or two before you’ll make the pies: Preheat oven to 350. Cut your pumpkin in half; scoop out the seeds and a little of the stringy pulp right under the seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet with edges and pour a little water into the bottom for a bit of steam. Bake for 1 ½-2 hours, until a knife inserted in the outside skin pierces quite easily, like softened butter. Cool a bit and scoop out the cooked flesh into a bowl; cover and chill until you’re ready to make the pies. If the flesh seems quite watery, you can cook it down on the stovetop in a pan until it’s firmer. It really depends on the pumpkin—which is why homemade is more work but more delicious than canned.

Old Fashioned Crust

This makes three crusts but since I can only bake two pies at a time, I freeze one-third of the dough for pie some other day. Making it in a food processor saves time but if you like, cut in the pastry with two knives.

3 ½ cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups cold butter (2 ½ sticks)
½ cup cold water
1 beaten egg
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Pulse flour and salt in the food processor until combined. Add the butter in ¼ inch slices and pulse until the size of peas.

In small bowl, combine water, egg, and vinegar. With processor running, slowly drizzle the liquid mixture through the feed tube just until the dough forms a ball; stop the machine so you don’t overprocess the dough. You may not need all the liquid before the ball forms. Divide into three equal portions and chill at least an hour (or overnight) in the fridge in a covered bowl. You’ll need two of these portions for two pumpkin pies so freeze the other or make a pecan pie too.

To assemble two pies:

Roll out two crusts and place in two pie plates. Prick the bottom with a fork and crimp the edge with your left index finger between your right index and middle fingers.

Preheat oven to 425.

Pumpkin Filling:
In food processor bowl, mix
3 eggs
3 cups pumpkin
1 cup turbinado or cane sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ginger
3/8 teaspoon cloves
3/8 teaspoon allspice
1 1/3 cans evaporated milk (1/3 can is ½ cup)

Blend well. Pour half the mixture into each of the two pie crusts.

Place the pies in the oven and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and cook for 45-50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean (or push it gently with your finger to feel if it’s set).

Cool well before eating. Whip some cream and serve! Each pie makes 8 large or 12 small slices.

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Still Winter Granola

Those of you who don’t live along Colorado’s Front Range of the Rockies would probably be surprised at the vicissitudes of our winter weather. Last weekend felt like spring with sunshine and highs in the 60s. Now it’s bleak winter again: highs in the teens today and ten below zero tonight with just enough icy snow falling to make the roads slippery and dangerous.

As one friend wrote this morning, it’s a good day for seed catalogs. I agree, but since we sent in our orders last week, I’m making granola instead.

I started making my own granola several years ago and couldn’t believe how many years I’d wasted buying granola. As many of you undoubtedly know, making your own granola is really easy, but even better than that, you can customize your own recipe in so many ways, why settle for less? Ingredients, sweetness, texture, and, best of all, toastedness are all under your own control. To make granola, all you need are ingredients—most of which you can buy in bulk, a large baking dish, and half an hour when you’re hanging out near the kitchen taking care of some other domestic task like balancing your checkbook, folding laundry, sending emails, or writing your blog lol.

To me, granola is SO 70s, part of the “back to the land” and “natural foods” movements that inspired me as a teenager. Unlike my memory of my first quiche, I can’t remember exactly when I first tried granola but I did make “Back to Nature” granola cookies in high school from store-bought granola (or “store-boughten,” as we say in our family).

I like making granola because it combines two kinds of activities: mindless and mindful. When I’m mixing the ingredients, I like to be mindful of the textures involved: the round flakiness of the oatmeal with the shredded flakiness of the coconut, the precise size of the walnuts chopped in my vintage chopper, and the smoothness of the honey drizzled gently into the oil and vanilla.

But once granola’s in the oven, you don’t have to think much about it, just enough to stir every five minutes or so until the end, when you better get mindful again or you can ruin the whole batch. The last few minutes are when you need vigilance to attain the perfect shade of brown and crunchy texture for your personal granola. No one can put that in a recipe—you have to discover that for yourself.

This past Christmas I gave my daughter and son-in-law—who have a beautiful new house with a perfect kitchen for cooking—my granola recipe and bulk bags of ingredients. They made their first batch right away and now can adapt the recipe to their liking.

Also last Christmas, a dear friend gave us a huge bag of homemade granola, a wonderful gift because she’d used walnuts AND almonds, honey AND maple syrup, while I always use just one nut and only honey, since we’ve got our own farm hives. It felt luxurious to eat such exuberant granola, a welcome change from our own.

So to celebrate the last day of January by warming up our kitchens as well as our palates, I’m including my Stonebridge Farm granola recipe below in the hope you’ll share your own granola recipes, favorite ingredients, and innovations.


Stonebridge Farm Granola

4 cups organic rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup coconut flakes (I use 2/3 cup shredded and 1/3 cup larger flakes)
1 cup chopped nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or pecans
2 Tbl of seeds like sesame, ground flax (or wheat germ)
¼ cup honey (1/3-1/2 cup if you like it sweeter)
¼ cup safflower oil (or same as for honey, plus some for oiling pan)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp good ground cinnamon like Vietnamese cassia
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit like cranberries or cherries or apples

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Very lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish and mix first 4 ingredients right inside the dish. If you’re using larger coconut flakes, you may want to reserve them because they brown more rapidly than the shredded kind.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes.

Take out of oven and stir well.  (Add large coconut flakes now if you’ve reserved them.)

Bake 5 minutes, remove, and stir. Repeat. (15 minutes total).

Sprinkle cinnamon over granola and mix well.

Mix safflower oil, honey, and vanilla in a two-cup measuring container with a pouring spout and pour uniformly over granola. Mix well.

Bake 3 minutes, remove, and stir.

Now comes the mindful part. Bake another 1-3 minutes depending on your oven and how brown you want your granola. I’d suggest baking for one minute, checking and stirring, and then repeat until you’re there.

Once you’ve attained perfection, stir well, being sure the granola isn’t sticking to the dish. Cool a few more minutes and stir again. If you don’t stir a couple times initially while it’s cooling, it’ll stick to the dish.

If you like your granola chunkier, you could mix 1/8 cup honey with 1/8 cup oil and drop in spots to harden some of the granola into chunks during this cooling period.

Once cooled, add fruit and mix.

Store in gallon glass jar or container.


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A Rogue Tomato and ’70s Quiche

I’m making a favorite recipe tonight, Tomato Tart, something I traditionally make with green tomatoes picked right before the first fall frost and ripened in the greenhouse. But this year the first frost was so late (Oct 27), the tomatoes had finished ripening well before, as if staying on the vine until the end of October was unnatural. I could have made it earlier with tomatoes gone red in the field but I hadn’t thought of it. No green tomatoes in the greenhouse, no tart.

Then last week John brought in a partially ripened tomato from a rogue tomato plant still growing in our greenhouse. Not in the shelf garden where we plant cherry and cluster tomatoes, but from a monstrous vine that had seeded itself in the soil floor of the greenhouse and grown up through the slats of the long table where we set out flats of starts each spring. In the greenhouse’s humidity, the vine had grown more exuberantly than it ever could outside in our dry heat; now in December tomatoes as big as our fists are slowly starting to ripen and one is red and ready for tonight’s tomato tart. Yahoo!

Made in the oversized stoneware pie plate that I routinely use for our Stonebridge Big Quiche, this tart is rich with a buttery crust and two cheeses and savory with herb-spiked olive oil drizzled over the tomato slices. I like that something delicious can be made from a tag-on, leftover vegetable that might have been disregarded after the season’s over.

But then I love anything on a crust. I grew up with my mom’s Bisquick pizza and grandmother’s pumpkin and apple pies, but the discovery of quiche when I was a sophomore in high school opened my eyes to pie crusty cuisine.

I drove my parents crazy in high school for all the usual reasons but also because I took up natural food. Even before the dangers of transfat were warned in the media, I insisted on butter instead of margarine. I would only eat whole grain bread or cook with whole wheat flour. I didn’t completely quit eating my mom’s homemade cookies, but I wouldn’t eat them frosted, or frosting on anything for that matter. I made granola cookies and unfrosted carrot cake and banana bread, a big change from my junior high daily snack of root beer floats and Ding Dongs. I also ate at least one banana every day, which earned me enough of a reputation that one friend gave me six bunches of bananas for my seventeenth birthday.

That was the spring—1976–my friend J. and I discovered quiche. A new restaurant had opened “near the college,” which was code in our small conservative town for “kinda kooky.” It was literally on the other side of the railroad tracks in a neighborhood we hadn’t even known existed. I’m not sure how J. and I heard about the place but we went looking for it one day, driving around the unfamiliar and slightly seedy side streets until we found a little hand-carved sign in front of an old, two-story house: The Harvest Restaurant.

We were seated in a booth with the requisite macramé and given simple menus listing salads, sandwiches, and something we’d never seen before and certainly didn’t know how to pronounce. The description sounded intriguing: cheese, egg, and vegetable filling on a whole wheat crust. We pointed to the dish and told the waitress we wanted that. “The quiche,” she said, undoubtedly realizing we had no idea what to call it. Yes, the quiche please.

The dish more than lived up to our expectations. To eat something with flaky crust that wasn’t just sweet seemed revolutionary to me—or European, same thing. I wouldn’t get to Europe until right after graduation but I had a sense that food was more extraordinary there than the casseroles, fried chicken, and roasts of the time. I loved the quiche, so much that I took my mother to The Harvest for mother’s day. I don’t think she was quite as impressed as I was, and probably more concerned with the neighborhood than with the food, but it was a step in forging my independent cuisine identity, and a well timed one since the restaurant closed shortly after that.

I wouldn’t have quiche again until I went to Europe. Until then, I didn’t have a recipe and I didn’t know where to look for one in those pre-epicurious days, but after I got back, I found one somewhere for an authentic “Quiche Lorraine.” That fall when I went to college, I found the Moosewood Cookbook and changed my eating forever, and two summers later I learned how to make great crusts from my former mother-in-law who got tired of making pies from all the blackberries I picked in Maine.  So now I’m making tomato tart for dinner, delicious and homegrown and still slightly Europeanish. Bon appétit!

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Almost Thanksgiving

Yesterday was a quiet Sunday so I got out my cache of Thanksgiving recipes to plan the week’s preparations for the big meal on Thursday. Most of what we cook comes from the farm, some down in the root cellar waiting–butternut squash and shallots for soup, pumpkin for pies, carnival squash for roasting—and the rest—carrots, turnips, leeks–waiting in the field for digging today or tomorrow.

My job today is to make gluten-free cornbread so that it’ll be stale for the stuffing on Thursday, joined by chopped hazelnuts, sliced leeks, grated carrot, rosemary, thyme, and veggie broth. I’m making the stuffing gluten-free this year for my daughter and sister but I think everyone will enjoy it and not even know it’s gluten-free.

The other job for the day is getting out the vintage “Homestead” dishes we use for Thanksgiving. They’re the “everyday” dishes my parents got when they married and have been passed on to me for this meal. I’ve got 18 place settings, which is a good thing because we have almost that many people coming for dinner.

Tonight I’ll cook the butternut squash and pumpkins in halves on a baking sheet with a little water for steaming until they’re soft and then I’ll scoop them out for the soup and pie.

Tomorrow I’ll set the dishes on the long table in our farm’s Sunflower Community Room and decorate with small squash and pumpkins from the field.

Wednesday I’ll make the pies with the pumpkin I’ve cooked, as well as make the spice butter for the outside of the turkey and to pour over the carnival squash, an acorn variety that I slice in wedges and bake covered with foil with a little broth in the bottom of the dish in a second oven an hour and a half at 375 before the turkey’s done.

I’m a vegetarian, but I decided years ago that I like Thanksgiving at home so much, I’ll make the turkey for everyone else. We buy a huge one from our friend’s natural food store, so big that we have to get up while it’s still dark to get it into the oven. Every year I complain to John, “Why is the vegetarian making the turkey?” but I have to admit, I do eat the gravy—flavored with our leeks and rosemary—on my mashed potatoes.

Here’s the recipe for the Spice Butter:

1 stick of softened butter

2 tsp coarse salt (smoked is good)

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp cumin powder

1 clove minced garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp each allspice, cloves, and nutmeg

2 Tbl honey

Leave it out the night before so it’s soft for spreading on the turkey, then melt the rest for drizzling over the squash slices.

Wednesday night I mince and sauté the shallots for the soup and also slice the leeks and grate the carrot for stuffing. I mix up all the dry stuffing ingredients in a huge crockery bowl so it’s handy in the morning. All I have to do then is add broth to the portion that will go inside the bird. We put leeks and rosemary in the bottom of the roasting pan with the turkey on top, and pour quite a bit of broth in the bottom. We coat the bird with olive oil and then rub on the spice butter, stick it in the oven, and go back to bed for an hour or so.

Up again when it’s light, we peel potatoes to boil for mashing, slice the squash for one dish and carrots and parsnips for another, douse the turkey with broth a few more times, get out the serving bowls, and make the soup.

I made this soup for the first time last year and it’s a great way to sit down at the table before we start passing the other dishes, plus I can put it in my biggest crockpot and forget about it while I tend to other things. My sister brings gluten-free, blue cornmeal mini-muffins to accompany the soup and it’s just right for a first course.

Here’s the recipe for Squash Pear Soup:

5 cups cooked butternut squash (3-4 pounds of butternut squash (1 large or 2 medium), already halved, de-seeded; cook for an hour and a half or so at 350 and scoop out of the skin)

4-5 minced shallots, sautéed in a little olive oil until golden

6 ripe pears, stem and core removed

2 tsp ground ginger

3 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1-2 tsp ground thyme

1/16 tsp cayenne powder

Puree all ingredients in a food processor and place in 6-qt crockpot. Add 1 ½ quarts (6 cups) vegetable broth and stir until smooth.

Heat for 2 hours on high setting.

At the same time I make the soup, I warm ½ gallon of cider with four cups of strong chai tea in a smaller crockpot to serve with my brother-in-law’s pumpkin bread while we’re cooking. This year we’ll spread the bread with yummy pumpkin butter that a subscriber gave us at the end of the season—a double pumpkin treat while we wait for everything else to cook.

It’s always a little hectic getting it all to the table but everyone helps. Our oldest daughter and son-in-law whip the potatoes with half-and-half and butter; John carves the turkey; my mom makes the gravy after the bird comes out of the pan; my sisters get the stuffing and veggies out of the oven; friends put the dishes they’ve brought on the table; and someone forgets that the rolls are in the oven until we’re all seated at the table and we have to run back for them.

The food’s ready, the table’s lovely with candlelight, and we’re all here, grateful for another year together. But before we eat, we recite a verse by Ralph Waldo Emerson that captures all that we have to be thankful for:

For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food

For love and friends,

For everything [that] goodness sends.

We are thankful.

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