The Great Pumpkin

Great surprise at our last CSA Pick-up of the season at Wolfe Spring Farm!

And the winner of the pumpkin is…..SAM

Sam on the Great Pumpkin: half his height and double the weight

We knew that we wouldn’t have pumpkins in our pick-up this year as June had said they lost their crop earlier this summer. But not ones to disappoint, June & Jim picked up a giant one at another local farm in Sheffield. Here’s the little guy sitting atop his pumpkin (I know, gratuitous shot of Sam)

What I’ve got on tap thus far:

And a complete snapshot of today’s last pick- up:

Last 2012 Pick-up at Wolfe Spring Farm

Thank you, Jim & June for a great season! We can’t wait til next May.

Masochism in the Kitchen

So with my massive haul from Wolfe Spring Farm, I had to get cracking on Saturday afternoon.

CSA Pick-up 9/22/12. Photo styling courtesy of Hubs

With the crisp evenings we’ve been having, I felt some sort of soup was in order and so the planning began. Soup is always a good way to use lots of veg, and forgiving, too. After some deliberation with Hubs, I decided on a Minestrone-style Vegetable Soup. This would be my lead dish for the weekend. I mapped out my other dishes and figured out which ingredients I could prep simultaneously. I would prep the ingredients for the vegetable soup and Freekeh Pilaf at the same time, since I could chop onions and garlic for both dishes in one shot.

Timing was also a factor, so I decided to put up some of the vegetables because it would be impossible to consume all in the week. The veggies are organic, and most have a short shelf life. I would freeze the bell peppers and roasted eggplant (must chop all peppers first, and grill the eggplant), as suggested by Agrigirl in a comment last week. And the tomatoes would turn into Sweet Tomato Jam, but not until Sunday.

And lastly, why not make some kale chips?

At one point, I had 5 dishes going in various stages of preparation in the sink, on the stove, in the oven and on the grill. Controlled chaos at best. Or, why chefs and cooks who do this, day in, day out, impress me to no end. Like I said, it was my own personal form of self-torture. If I knew how to insert a table into this post, I’d have a matrix with the following headers: Ingredients, Dish, Cooking Method. That’s how much I had goin’ on. And this didn’t even include Saturday night dinner!

The good news is that the “lead” dish du jour, the Vegetable Soup, turned out delicious. I call it Minestrone-style because I used tomatoes and it has a light tomato base, but I didn’t use any beans or pasta, which you usually find in a Minestrone soup. Here is my recipe, and like most others, consider it a starting point and alter it based on what you have in your cupboard.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium or large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 carrot diced,
2 stalks celery, chopped (I didn’t use because we didn’t have any, but highly recommend)
8 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth for the carnivores)
1 cup tomatoes, chopped, cored and seeded
2 small potatoes,  diced in 1/2 inch,
1 Parmiggiano cheese rind (I keep the rinds in a plastic bag in the back of my fridge. Use in risottos and soups, add great flavor)
1 cup winter squash, diced (I used spaghetti squash and surprisingly, turned out great. Had never used it in a soup)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup shredded cabbage (left over from last week’s pick-up. A head of cabbage goes a looong way)
Large handful of parsley, leaves only, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


In large soup pot, on low-medium heat, saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes in olive oil. Add carrots and celery and continue to saute until vegetables are softened.  Add potatoes, squash and bell pepper (or whichever “hard” vegetables you are using – turnips, parsnips would also be great). Saute for 2-3 minutes to give vegetables some color.

Sauteed “hard” vegetables in the pot

Add liquid – broth and chopped tomatoes, and Parmiggiano rind, if using. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until “hard” vegetable soften. Add cabbage and parsley (or other “soft” vegetables or greens, like zucchini, kale, collard greens, etc). Season with salt and pepper, simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool. Serve with shredded Parmiggiano cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

Minestrone-style Vegetable Soup

What’s left in the basket from my CSA Pick-up? Cauliflower, a cucumber, cherry tomatoes (I was greedy with these), watermelon, raspberries (not worried about the fruit) and 2 shiitake mushrooms. Looking for suggestions for the shiitake mushrooms and cauliflower. Any ideas?

Freekeh: The Best Grain You’ve Never Tasted

Who has tasted Freekeh? It is a very old grain, like farro, that is also very good for you (like farro). It is green wheat that has gone through a roasting process.   It is high in protein, insoluble fiber, has a low glycemic index and is tasty, to boot. Freekeh can be prepared like rice, or most other whole grains, and used in similar recipes. It has a nice bite to it, and slightly nutty taste. You can find it in the bin foods section of some grocery or health foods stores, or pre-packaged (harder to find, I think). What’s not to like, right?

I prepared the Freekeh on Saturday and we had it for lunch on Sunday.  I decided on a Freekeh Pilaf, which is a traditional preparation. I added cherry tomatoes  because I had picked up the sweetest, juiciest yellow cherry tomatoes EVER from Wolfe Spring Farm.

Cherry Tomatoes at Wolfe Spring Farm

They were like little jewels, so I used them as the “fruit” in this pilaf recipe to add sweetness and moisture. If you don’t have sweet tomatoes, no worries. Just add some chopped dried fruit. I riffed on this recipe from the This is How I Cook blog that I found over the weekend. This was a big crowd-pleaser.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion,  chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced and seeded
1 handful walnuts, chopped (or pistachios or almonds)
1c freekeh
2c vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2t cumin
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped  (optional)
Fresh parsley to garnish (or cilantro or mint)
Saute the onion, garlic, and jalapeno pepper  in olive oil. When they start to sweat (about 5 min), stir in the nuts. Brown them just a little. Stir in the freekeh. Let cook a minute. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Cover. Check after about 20 minutes. It should be done but if you want it softer add a bit more liquid and cook a little longer.

Freekeh Pilaf

Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley (or cilantro or mint – whatever you have on hand). Add chopped tomatoes and/or dried apricots, if available. Think of this as any pilaf recipe because all you have to do is substitute the grain. Serve warm or at room temperature.

CSA Pick-up 9/22/11: masochism

Hello people, as Baby Sam would say. Another red letter day at Wolfe Spring Farm. New this week: watermelon, shiitake mushrooms, kale and cauliflower

Here’s what we prepared today:
– Freekeh Pilaf
– Minestrone soup (100% local, ex tr olive oil and parmiggiano)
– Smashed fingerling potatoes and garlic
– Kale Chips
– Roasted Eggplant
– Insalata Caprese

That’s where the masochism comes in. And I’ve still got 3 pounds of tomatoes left – yellow cherry tomatoes and standard red tomatoes. Any suggestions other than tomato sauce?