Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Employee Favorites Part Two



Our most popular blog for 2016 was our Employee Favorites, therefore a part two was inevitable! So, here is another great group of picks that has us anxious for spring.

 
Andrew –with the company 1 year

Konan Kohlrabi: Konan has singlehandedly renewed my love for kohlrabi. This is hands down the sweetest, most enjoyable fresh-eating kohlrabi I’ve ever tried. At our trial grounds, the rest of our spring-planted kohlrabi tanked in July, but Konan remained crisp and sweet. We are now pulling kohlrabi out of our winter trials and performing brix (sweetness) testing; Konan is consistently topping that category. I call them “broccoli apples”!

Blush Onion
Blush Onion: Blush is one of the most beautiful onions you can grow, as well as the most versatile. A rosy pink color, it can stand in for a yellow or a red. It was the largest onion in our trial fields this year. For a storage onion, it has great sweetness. If you can only grow one onion, Blush is the one. I love it.

Double Yield Cucumber: All summer long, my kitchen is full with a rotating stock of fermenting vegetables of all types. I was really impressed this year with Double Yield. The volume of picklers that this plant produces is almost literally twice the yield of most other varieties. I was stunned to find out that this is an OP and not a hybrid. The cukes are really nice too, they have a yellowish blush with cool little black spines.

Jambalaya Okra: I developed a love for okra having lived and grown in North Carolina for a couple of years. When I moved back to Oregon, I was saddened to think that I wouldn’t be able to grow the same, 8’ high okra monsters that I once did. I had also grown okra in the Midwest with modest results. This year, I grew Jambalaya and was really impressed. It produced very early, and yielded very tender, flavorful pods. For northern growing, this is the best variety of okra I can recommend.

Jambalaya Okra
French Tarragon: Tarragon is my favorite herb. It has a delicate flavor that is somewhere between that of mint, anise, and lemon. It pairs very well with root vegetables, eggs, chicken, pork, and makes a great vinaigrette salad dressing. I love growing and using tarragon, and if you haven’t tried it, you really should! A thorough fall mulching will help it to overwinter in colder zones.



Stephanie J—with the company 1 year

Cool Wave Pansy: I love flowers and have a variety of mixed containers that change seasonally but my yearly staples are Cool Wave Mix Pansies on my front porch. They hold well through the winter with little effort and are always smiling at me when I get home.

Fireball Pepper: My husband enjoys hot peppers so we grow several varieties each year. This year Fireball’s flavor stood out in our canned goods. There was definitely not a shortage on our one plant. It was so full we had it fresh, pickled, included it in salsa, and added it to any other dish that needed extra spice. The plant produced for longer than other varieties and held well into the fall.

Profusion Zinnia: Another favorite flower of mine that I grow every year is Profusion Zinnias. I am drawn to the bright colors that continue to amaze me because of how long they hold. An occasional shear and bi-monthly fertilizer is all they need to stay beautiful all summer long. I prefer a long block of 1 color for a more dramatic look.

Siam Queen Basil: I eat pho about once a week so Siam Queen Basil is a must! I use it in many other dishes but the distinct flavor in pho has made it one of my favorite herbs. It isn’t always the fullest basil in my garden but the purple flowers make it an attractive accent plant as well.

Siam Queen Basil


Dana—with the company for 3 years

Duganski Garlic: There is something so satisfying about growing garlic; watching the deep green leaves grow even during the coldest months of winter when everything else in the garden is brown and mushy, to then harvest during the tough, dry summer. It can stand up to so much, especially this variety. I have grown Duganski since I was first introduced to it three years ago. It is a hard neck, which I prefer because of the bulky cloves and of course, I must have my annual meal surrounding the scapes. Duganski has an excellent garlic flavor, spicy but not too spicy. This makes it fantastic for pretty much everything – garlic salt, powder, roasting, and of course, eating fresh. Every year I look forward to showing off my harvest of these bulbs.

Turmeric: Freshly shaved turmeric, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a dollop of local honey enjoyed in hot water. This is my daily drink of choice. It has gotten to the point where I crave the taste and smell of turmeric. I even relish in my yellow stained fingers after handling the root. 

Luffa
Luffa: What is more gratifying than a plant that is both edible and utilitarian?! Happily, when used for its sponge-like characteristics, it proves itself to be quite durable – a sliver can hold up to a deep shower cleaning at my house. The plant has a long growing period and can benefit from a bit of scarification to increase the germination rate, but once it gets going, the long fruits dangling from seemingly delicate vines are a sight to see in the garden.

Palco Spinach: I am not exaggerating when I say I could eat spinach all day and night. For this reason, I need a plant that is both reliable and adaptive. Palco can endure hot or cold temperatures, and can be harvested young or mature. Give me a heaping handful of fresh spinach, a little bit olive oil, a dash of salt and I’m a happy girl.

Konan Kohlrabi: From my first taste of Konan, I could not stop bragging about it. It is definitely the sweetest kohlrabi I’ve tasted so far. Reliable in the garden and the most reminiscent of jicama, it is the only kohlrabi I will grow.

Purple of Sicily Cauliflower: Cauliflower has to be one of my favorite vegetables because of its extreme versatility in the kitchen. You can manipulate it into almost anything you want. So when confronted with growing a purple variety, which is my third favorite color, I was in. Even when my other varieties were not maturing, Purple of Sicily finished strong and turned out to be sweeter than the others.
 
Mel—with the company for 3 years

Sugar Ann snap peas never make it into my house. I eat them straight off the plant typically while I’m watering the garden (that’s actually an excuse…I will go outside just to eat snap peas).

Lakeside spinach is a new favorite for me. I love spinach in general, I find it pretty easy to grow and it can tolerate some neglect, Lakeside especially. Lakeside was my favorite when going through the trials this past year; the flavor blew me away! I can’t wait to plant it at my house this year.


Quali T 23 has always impressed me with its ability to produce the most flawless looking tomatoes. They are great for sandwiches and burgers – although their perfect apple-size shape makes me want to just munch the thing whole (I haven’t done that….yet). My plant this year had way more tomatoes than I could eat, so lucky for my family, they got some to-go whenever they came to visit.

Quali T 23 Tomato

I have a small yard so I grow a lot of things in containers. Patio Snacker cucumber produced so well for me in a container that once again I had to share the extra with my family. Love these cukes in salads and sandwiches!

Limka Bean
I am really not a huge fan of beans (I will eat them if you cook them and put them in front of me…but that is true of most food). However, when I was wandering through our trials a couple years ago taste-testing some beans…I literally stopped in my tracks when I tried Limka. From the looks of it you would have thought it was a bit passed its prime because it was so large, but nope! Even at 7-8 inches long it was still crisp and had the sweetest flavor I’d ever tasted in a fresh bean. I grew it at my house this past season and prolific is an understatement. Beans. For. Days. I will grow this bean every year!


Camille—with the company 9 years

Cube of Butter is my favorite yellow squash. It is a must have in my garden. I add it to almost anything. My favorite way to prepare it is to slice the small fruit in half, brush with a little olive oil and then place it on the grill. I like how much it produces and that the fruit always cooks perfectly with ease.

Matina Sweet Butterhead lettuce grows so well for me almost year-round. I think the heads are just the perfect size for a family salad at dinner. It has a mild flavor that is not bitter.

Chocolate Cherry tomatoes are the perfect flavor and size with a rich color. When I add them to a salad for guests, they always want to know what type it is. They hold very well after picking. This typically is not an issue as my family devours them as fast as they come out of the garden.

Marino Cilantro

Marino cilantro is the first cilantro that I have been able to grow with success. It was very prolific in my containers. My daughter would go out and just eat it out of the garden like candy.



Ginger—with the company 10 years

One of my favorite hard goods is the EZ Elevated Garden. The 32” height is perfect for gardening without any kneeling.  So far I have only grown lettuce in it and it does real well.  No weeding, just growing, and I can put it right outside my kitchen door where it is easily accessible. 

My favorite cherry tomato is Esterina.  Bright yellow, great taste, no splitting, easy to pick and very prolific—even if you neglect it.

First spring planting for me is usually the Mild Mesclun Blend.  I really like the combo of different flavors in my salads-especially the Mizuna and Tah Tsai Mustards—mmm mmm!

EZ Elevated Garden


Happy gardening everyone!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Magically Magnificent Cinderella Soup


We recently stumbled onto a fantastic method of making squash or pumpkin soup by baking a whole, filled fruit in the oven and serving right from the shell! It’s a super simple yet rich and indulgent recipe that requires minimal effort but has a breathtaking presentation. Just right for a holiday meal, our Cinderella soup is delicious, warming and satisfying. Its quick prep means you could throw it together for a weekday meal as well. We hope you love it as much as we do!

Ingredients:
1-whole Cinderella pumpkin (or other squash that will fit in the oven, approximately 5 pounds)
2 quarts whole milk, a milk/cream mix, or vegetable substitute (try cashew, almond or coconut)
15 large sage leaves
3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons salt (more to taste)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup (more or less to taste) Gruyere cheese, shredded or cubed

Method:



1. Move the rack to the bottom of the oven to make room and preheat to 375°F.
2. Cut a lid out of the top of the pumpkin making the hole large enough to form a tureen out of it. Scoop out the insides.
Pro tip: To make gutting the pumpkin super easy, put a hand beater blade in the chuck of a portable drill and run it carefully inside the pumpkin to loosen the strings and seed.
3. Rub the inside of the cleaned fruit with sea salt, and set it in a baking dish that’s large enough to contain the whole pumpkin. Remember, if the skin gets pierced in the process, the dish will need to accommodate all the ingredients!
4. Heat the milk with the sage, garlic, salt and pepper.
5. Pour the mixture into the pumpkin, cover the hole with aluminum foil to help support the lid, and fit the lid back in place.

6. Bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours or until it is fairly soft to the touch.
7. Remove from the oven, take off the lid and foil, and carefully begin to stir the cooked flesh into the liquid to combine. Taste and add salt if needed. If the flesh is stringy or the skin doesn’t hold up you may need to scoop everything into a serving tureen.
8. Stir in cheese.
9. If you want a very smooth soup, ladle the contents into a blender or use an immersion blender & mix.
10. Top with fresh parsley for garnish if desired, serve & enjoy!

Adjust the measurements as needed for larger or smaller squash. We’ve found this basic recipe very adaptable to your preferences. Goat cheese works well, curry or other seasonings can be added prior to baking, and sour cream makes a wonderful topping immediately prior to serving.

Adapted from Deborah Madison’s recipe in her book, Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets.

If you haven't grown our Cinderella pumpkins before, be sure to add it to your list for next year!

Author: Kat B.