Enjoying chard and kale

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Chard and kale are among the healthiest veggies you can eat, ranking 3rd and 15th respectively in a recent list of Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables by the Centers for Disease Control. They are also delicious, beautiful and super easy to incorporate into your diet. If you’re like us, you eat a few staple dishes for most meals. Most nights, it is easier to make a long-eaten, well-known dinner, rather than try a totally new dish. Chard and kale are totally ok with this! They are flexible and accommodating and very glad to go along for your standard fare.

Around here, we eat a lot of pizza and pasta. There is a 50% chance that if you come over for a meal, you will be eating pizza or pasta. (In fact, we’ll be having pizza tonight with the scraps of bread dough from making baguettes!). We’ve been adding chard and kale to our pizzas, and using it to top pasta, for a boost of nutrition, flavor, and feel-goodery. Just chop the leaves and stalks into manageable pieces, and throw on top of the pie along with your other toppings. The chard stalks are so pretty, everyone will want to eat it! Use the same method for adding these greens to omelets or quiches as well.

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For pasta, we have a well-established summer tradition of making What’s Ready in the Garden Pasta. You take whatever the garden gives you, in this case leaves and stems from the chard, and leaves from kale, sauté it with olive oil, garlic and herbs (lots of basil here), and throw it on top of pasta. Sometimes we add bacon or kielbasi. Easy, nutritious, one-plate meal.

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Having a burger for dinner? Put chard on top instead of lettuce! Cooking up some stir fry? Throw in the chard and kale!

See what I’m saying? Totally flexible and accommodating. Also, delicious and healthy!

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Radishes, Three ways

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Above (From left to right): French D’Avignon, White Icicle, and Belle radishes.

Radishes were developed in Asia, perhaps 2,000 years ago and are now found all over the world. There are so many interesting, and very different varieties for many different tastes. French D’Avignon radishes were developed in…any guesses… France! They are the most mild radish we grow and are perfect sliced thin and layered on a slice of buttered toast (perhaps a baguette?) with a little bit of salt.

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Our belle radishes are the standby, round radish with pink (and sometimes white or purple) skin. A bit spicy! Round-type radishes have only been popular since the 1930s and 40s.

…which brings us to the White Icicle radishes (also called Lady Fingers, which is totally creepy)! This is my first year growing these heirlooms from the 1600s, and I love them! Many of our Farmers’ Market customers remember their moms growing this sort of radish when they were kids. Because of the warm weather, these Icicle radishes are a bit spicy – about on par with the belles. In our house, radishes are usually eaten in the garden and don’t often make it to the kitchen, but you can roast the Icicle radishes to bring out a little bit of sweetness.

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If you are less ravenous with radishes than we are here and want to keep them for a few days, simply remove their tops and store them in the fridge for up to a week. I submerge mine in a bowl of water, but a perforated bag in the crisper drawer will work too.

Radish season will be over in a few weeks! I hope you enjoy this ancient spicy vegetable while they last!

Time to make the bread…

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The Market isn’t until Saturday, but the bread making begins on Thursday. To get the light, fluffy texture in the baguettes and the best flavor, the dough spends a lot of time developing. Bill makes a small amount of dough on Thursday, which is called the “preferment.” On Friday morning, more flour is added, then I do lots of stretching and folding throughout the day to help chewy gluten develop. In the evening, Bill has a complicated choreography of shaping, resting, and reshaping before the bread is cooked. The dance continues during cooking with precise timing and the addition of steam, to help create the perfect crust.

We think all the work and attention makes a fantastic baguette! Repeat customers seemed to agree, with multiple bread-lovers saying the devoured an entire baguette in one sitting. (No judgment here! We do it all the time!) Baguettes will be available at the Zionsville Farmers’ Market this week!

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Flighty Amelia, who lays blue eggs

This is Amelia – named for her early interest in flying over obstacles that the other chicks would walk around. Amelia, and her puffy-cheeked daughters, lay blue eggs. She was bred from Araucanas and Ameraucanas – two breeds of chicken that originated in South America. Amelia passes on her blue eggs and feathered faces to her chicks, but, so far, feather color seems to be dominated by our white Wyandotte roosters. We all hope you enjoy the uniquely colored eggs!

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Heirloom Popcorn: Cherokee Long Ear

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Our favorite popcorn is a pretty, heirloom variety called Cherokee Long Ear. The ears are gorgeous and the popped corn has a delightful nutty flavor that is delicious with just a sprinkle of salt. The variety was developed by members of the Cherokee Nation, likely from corn acquired through trade with other native groups. It is still grown today, thanks to the work of dedicated conservationists, and is loved by gardeners across the country. Cherokee Long Ear popcorn is prolific and relatively easy to grow, perhaps because it was developed in America before the use of heavy machinery and chemical fertilizers. The naturally tight husks protect the ears from pests, and the short stalks don’t make much demand on the land.

The hardest part of growing popcorn is the waiting…we pick the dried ears of corn in late October. Then, we wait. Oh, how we wait! After picking, the kernels have to dry even more before they will pop. The beautiful ears sit on rack near our wood stove, begging to be eaten – a cozy treat during the darkest days of winter. We know…we know…they they won’t be dry enough to pop until February or March, and yet we always attempt at test batch (which always fails) around the winter Solstice. When we’re brave enough to try again in early spring, we are rewarded with the yummiest, prettiest snack that also makes is feel great because we are helping preserve a bit of delicious history.

We’ll have bags of popcorn at the Zionsville Farmers’ Market starting on Saturday, May 16.

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The waiting!! Failed popping from New Year’s Eve (left). Success on March 4! (right)

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Getting Ready!

There is just one week left until Saw-whet Farm attends our very first Farmers’ Market! Saying we’re “excited” is a huge understatement. We’ll be at the Zionsville Farmers’ Market every Saturday, from May 16 until the end of September. Eggs are being collected, bread will be baked, greens will be harvested, and giddiness will abound.

Look for a post soon about the heirloom popcorn we’ll have available, but in the meantime, you can learn more about us, our philosophy, and our chickens on this site, and you can follow Saw-whet Farm on Instagram.

See you very soon!
– JoAnna

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