Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bran Carrot Squash Muffins

If you find yourself with lots of carrots or lots of extra zucchini, you can change the recipe to accommodate. If you happen to get an extra juicy carrot or zucchini, try to remove some of the liquid by squeezing a cup at a time in a paper towel. You can grate the veggies by hand, but if you have a food processor, by all means, save yourself some time and use it!

A few times when I've made this recipe, the muffins came out a little too sweet for my taste, likely because the carrots I used were super-sweet already. Consider crunching on a bite of your carrots before shredding, and cutting the sugar by up to half.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cup wheat bran
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 large eggs

1/2 cup organic canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups grated raw carrot

1 cup grated raw zucchini or other summer squash.
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Grease your muffin tin really really well and consider using muffin liners to make things easier on yourself -- this is important. The bran and all the carrots make these muffins fall apart more easily, so you'll need to take care or your muffins will stick and your tops will fall off. This is okay in a Seinfeld episode, but less cool in real life. If you're filling the muffin pan to the top because you want big crispy muffin tops, also make sure that you grease the top of the pan and not just the inside of the cups or it will stick.

Mix dry ingredients: flour, bran, salt, bkg pwdr, bkg soda, nutmeg, cinnamon. In separate bowl, mix eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar.

Add carrot & squash into wet stuff and mix to coat, then gently fold in dry ingredients 1/4 at a time until just combined.

Add raisins and walnuts, stir gently, then fill greased muffin cups 3/4 to all-the-way full. Cook 20-25 minutes at 400

A yummy breakfast treat -- goes great with a steaming cup of coffee

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Zucchini bread, three ways

Special zucchini bread with crunchy topping, adapted from 101 Cookbooks won second place in the tasting competition.

Hooray for summer! Every day on the farm brings new, exciting, and delicious bounties. Lately, the summer squash has gone for broke, and we're swimming in bright green zucchinis, stripy zucchinis, pattypans, and this curious fellow:

This year, one of our seed suppliers, Johnny's, sent out the wrong seeds to everyone who ordered Costata Romanesca squash. In fact, the lovely round squash isn't a Costata at all, but something else: still delicious and prolific, but rounder and slightly wetter than what we bargained for.

Turns out the mystery squash is perfect for zucchini bread. The seeds inside (even a larger one) aren't too big, so I just chopped off the stem, cut the squash in wedges, and used a food processor to shred it all.

I tested three recipes, a traditional sweetish walnut-cinnamon-nutmeg loaf, a slightly zany nutty loaf with a secret ingredient, adapted from 101 cookbooks and a savory zucchini-basil muffin recipe, adapted from a message board post on a Chowhound message board.

The tasting panel generally agreed that the zucchini basil muffins won out, with the zany recipe not far behind. The more traditional recipe turned out too dry and slightly over-sweet. It could have done with some soaked raisins and extra zucchini.

And the winner is...

FIRST PLACE: Zucchini Basil Muffins
Adapted from the LA Times by way of Chowhound.

1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 c. all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shredded mystery zucchini (or any other type should work fine)
3 tbsp sweet basil, finely minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese to top

Beat egg in bowl, stir in milk and oil, then mix in sugar.

Sprinkle baking powder and salt evenly on top.

Mix in flour until just moistened, then gently mix in zucchini and basil.

Fill a well-buttered muffin tin so that the cups are nearly full (slightly more than 3/4). Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 450 degrees, 20-25 minutes.

Makes 6-9 muffins. You can easily double for a bigger batch.

RUNNER UP: Special Zucchini Bread with sesame crunch
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 cup chopped walnuts
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp sesame seeds

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fine grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg + one yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tbsp curry powder

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter one 5x9 loaf pan, dust it with a bit of flour and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the walnuts, sesame seeds, lemon zest, and gingers. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again until mixture comes together and is no longer. Add the eggs, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini (low speed if you are using a mixer).

Sprinkle the baking soda on top of the mixture. Then sprinkle on the salt and curry powder as evenly as possible. Add the flour in 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until just incorporated each time. After the last batch of flour, fold in half of the walnut, sesame, ginger mixture.

Put the batter in the greased pan, making sure it is level with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Then sprinkle on the other half of the walnut, ginger, lemon mixture.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes on a middle oven rack. Check the bread after 35 minutes and cover if it begins to brown too quickly. The loaf will be done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Take the loaf out from the oven and let cool for about ten minutes, then remove from the pan onto wire racks to finish cooling.

Makes one loaf. To double, use 3 eggs instead of 1 egg + one yolk.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Freezing Tomatoes and other resources for food preservation

Here on the farm we're just coming into our summer bounty. With all the beautiful food around us: tomatoes blushing red, new zucchinis bursting from the vine, cucumbers coming to size and lettuce growing and growing, it's hard to think about the times of year when all these things just don't grow.

In the past our mothers and grandmothers found ways to preserve food to enjoy during leaner winter months when harvests were scarce or nonexistent. Preserving: pickling, jamming, canning, and drying is coming back into vogue as the economy encourages people to find ways to save, and folks become more excited about eating locally produced products. Ball Jar has seen sales of canning jars go up by 30% since 2007.

Some of our neighbors are well ahead of the trend: many folks on the island have been canning and preserving for years. And we know many more of you are interested in getting started. We had a question on the blog the other day about preserving foods, so we've put together some resources to help.

In the coming months, we hope to compile the wisdom of other folks on the island to give advice on island-friendly techniques for storing onions, garlic, and other veggies to keep throughout the year.

Freezing Tomatoes

Here at the farm, we like to freeze extra tomatoes to use throughout the year in soups and sauces. It's a simple process that takes just an afternoon or evening to process the pounds of extra tomatoes we harvest and can't use up.
1) Rinse your tomatoes well, cut out the stem area and discard. You can leave the tomatoes whole, or cut them in chunks, according to your preference. (We leave them whole.)
2) Place the tomatoes in a large soup pot with nothing else. Bring them to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer them for about an hour, until they are mushy.
3) Put the tomato mixture through a food mill, and discard the pulp that remains. (It should be only a small amount.)
4) Put the tomato mixture in individual glass jars (we use quart-size ball jars with plastic lids) and set on the counter to cool. Then put in the freezer. This should last at least a year.

Other Resources
The San Juan Island library is a great resource for books on canning and preserving vegetables. Check out books near call number 641.4.

Here are some key references to check out (* available at the library):

You can also check out these sites online:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Radishes Braised in Butter

Cooking radishes? Yep, it's actually the only way I will be charmed by their Easter basket colored selves into eating them.

Tender, a bit sweet, a bit tangy, still got some bite to them. Plus, they are still so colorful!
1 bunch of radishes, sliced 1/2 inch thick and greens removed (but saved for cooking up another time)
1 small fresh red onion (with green stems still attached, though you won't use them for this) or 1/2 small red onion sliced into rings
1 tbsp butter

pinch of sugar
1/3 cup water or chicken stock
salt and pepper


Melt the butter in a pan that is large enough to place all the radishes without overlapping. When it begins to brown, add the onion and sautee for three minutes till soft. Then add the radishes, sugar, water and a shake of salt and pepper and turn heat to high. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the radishes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Uncover, turn up to high in order to bring it back up to a boil and evaporate off most of the water. If you like, allow radishes to brown a bit once the water has evaporated.

The freshly harvested red onions tend to have a milder taste to them then a regular cured one.

All from the Friday Harbor Farmer's Market.

White Bean, Sage and Garlic Scape Dip

Dip and toasted Cafe Demeter Organic Whole Wheat Bread. I was amazed at how yummy this dip turned out to be. And since many are at a loss for what to do with garlic scapes, as an intern, I've been able to make double and triple batches and freeze and gift them.

Garlic scapes among Synergy cabbage and snow peas at market.

Based on a recipe from The New York Times

1/2 - 2/3 cup roughly chopped garlic scapes (4-7, though this depends on how big the scapes are)
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves

1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Ground black pepper to taste

2 cups, or if using canned, one 15 ounce can, white beans drained (cannellini, navy, or great northern)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

In a food processor, process smaller starting quantities of garlic scapes, lemon juice, sage, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add white beans and process to a rough purée.

With motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through feed tube and process until fairly smooth. At this point, add more of the scapes, salt, and/or pepper, if desired, and process to a creamy puree.

When you serve the dip, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with more salt.

Pureed beans, scapes, sage, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Update: San Juan Island food on TV

Update: If you didn't catch the spot, you can check it out online here.

Last week, Madden, the chef at Steps Wine Bar and Cafe was interviewed about local island food, including Synergy's own carrots and potatoes!

The show should also feature local island spots and kayaking.

Check it out at 7pm on "Evening Magazine" on King 5 News, Thursday July 2nd!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Roasted Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas, or "brave potatoes," are a traditional Spanish tapa -- golden fried garlicky potatoes either topped with, or dipped into, a spicy, garlicky aoili. Tapas are Spain's snacks or appetizers, often taken with a drink in the afternoon, or late in the evening.

This version, which I made with new potatoes, is roasted in olive oil instead of fried, but the Bravas sauce is the same tangy, hot delicious mix you can find in many bars and restaurants in Madrid.

1 lb potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
3 Synergy garlic cloves, minced finely
paprika and salt, to coat

Bravas Sauce:
1/2 medium onion
4 Synergy garlic cloves (6 if you use regular garlic, which is smaller)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup mustard aioli
1 tsp paprika (pimentón dulce)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop potatoes into 1/2'' cubes. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, garlic, paprika and salt until evenly coated, then transfer to a baking sheet. Cook for about 1 hour or until brown and crispy, but not burnt. Take the pan out of the oven and stir every 20 minutes or so to prevent sticking and make sure potatoes brown evenly.

In the meantime, prepare the bravas sauce. In a blender, mix together all the sauce ingredients until well-incorporated.

Serve potatoes hot, with sauce on the side for dipping or with 2-3 tbsp mixed in.

Chinese Cabbage and Parsley Salad with Mustard Aioli

This simple, fresh-tasting salad is a great accompaniment to a summer picnic. Peppery, sweet Chinese cabbage works very well, but a more traditional variety can also be substituted.

Adapted from the New York Times

1/2 lb Chinese cabbage, shredded
1 cup trimmed, peeled, finely shredded carrot
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tsp sesame oil (optional)

Remove cabbage leaves one-by-one and wash carefully. Cut leaves in half, lengthwise, then stack leaves and slice horizontally with your knife, as thinly as possible. Use the entire leaf, including the sweet, juicy white stems. This should produce 3-4 cups of cabbage

Put cabbage in a large bowl, add carrot and parsley and toss. Add 1/4 cup of mustard aioli (or less or more, to your liking) and optional sesame oil and mix well to coat.

Mustard Aioli

1 egg
3 Dijon-style mustard
2 tsp ground ginger
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil

In a blender, mix egg, mustard, ginger, shallots and vinegar. When blended well, keep blender on low, open the lid carefully and gradually add oil. Use the remaining aoili as a substitute for mayonnaise, or in Patatas Bravas.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Double Green Garlic Soup

Green garlic bulbs.

Garlic scapes among other June and July Farmer's Market offerings.

Mondo Music garlic (Music is actually the variety name.)

The food processor making life easier.

And even easier.

The finished soup. Double garlic, cream, a little lemon, thyme and nutmeg. Don't forget the fresh, crusty bread for dipping (in this case it is ciabatta from Cafe Demeter.)

In my mind, the key to this silky soup is a generous quantity of freshly grated nutmeg garnishing the soup. It is fun to make
and sort of amazing to take three big garlic bulbs and three cups of scapes and turn it into such a smooth soup. Definitely serve it with thick toasted slices of a fresh crusty bread. If you dip a toasted slice of bread in the soup, the crunch is a wonderful counterpoint to the cream.

Though the soup is "double green" because the recipe calls for fresh garlic bulbs, whose flavor is milder, and the scapes are vibrantly green, the soup does lose it's color a bit and mellows to a murky green. To counter that, place some fresh thyme sprigs or blossoms in the center in addition to the freshly grated nutmeg.

Recipe from The New York Times

3 fat bulbs green garlic,* root and green parts trimmed, outer layer removed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups sliced garlic scapes (about 3/4 pound)

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, more for garnish

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

Ground black pepper to taste

1/2 pound new potatoes

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup half-and-half or whole milk

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg to garnish


Chop green garlic by hand or in a food processor. In a soup pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add green garlic and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add scapes, thyme, salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes.

Stir in potato and broth, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until scapes and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add half-and-half, and purée soup with an immersion blender or pour into a regular blender. Stir in the lemon juice and season with more salt and pepper. Garnish with nutmeg and thyme leaves, and serve hot.

* If green garlic isn't available at the farmer's market, use two-thirds are much regular garlic. Though if green garlic isn't available, then garlic scapes probably aren't either, and it just isn't the time of year to make this soup.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ginger Braised Pork with Chinese Cabbage

This recipe was inspired by the gorgeous Chinese cabbage I picked up from Joel and Margaret of Thousand Flower Farm last Saturday at the Farmers' Market. Joel wasn't sure how versatile this veggie could be, so I promised to make something and come back with a report on the results.

This gorgeous, slightly peppery, big-leafed cabbage is often used in soups and added to light broths in Chinese cooking, but it is also wonderful in stir fries, braised, like in this recipe, and chopped up raw for salad. The dark green leaves are soft and have a slight horseradish flavor, while the white stems are crunchy, tender, and super-sweet.

This recipe originally called for bacon, and that's how I made it the first time around, but all the tasters agreed that the marinated pork was more flavorful, had better texture, and was probably a little healthier to boot. You could also use thinly-sliced pork loin for an even lighter version of the dish.

Adapted from The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas

1 pound pork butt partially frozen and sliced as thinly as possible
1 tbsp fresh ginger
1 lb Thousand Flower Farm Chinese cabbage leaves
4 medium sized carrots, peeled
1 1/2 cups chicken broth and 1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp white pepper

1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Marinate your sliced pork for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight in the refrigerator. The longer you marinate, the more tender and flavorful the dish will be.

Separate and wash your cabbage leaves. If you have an extra large cabbage (like Joel and Margaret's!) use the larger leaves on the outside. Chop large leaves in half horizontally to fit the pot you'll be using, separating the dark green tops from the white bottoms.

Chop your carrots into 2'' portions, then slice the 2'' portions thinly.

To make sure your layers end up even, divide the cabbage leaves and carrot strips into 4 parts and divide the pork, bacon, and chopped ginger into 3 parts. Try to use the white stems on the lower levels, rather than in the top layers as they will cook better closer to the source of heat and to the liquid. Arrange cabbage leaves and carrots on the bottom of a large (3 qt) pot; cover with a portion of the meats and chopped ginger. Continue layering. On the last layer, put the carrot strips under the cabbage instead of on top; and if possible, save the prettiest, biggest leaves for the top -- this just makes for a prettier presentation.

Add your chicken broth and soy sauce, bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to medium so that the chicken broth is only simmering. Cover the pot and cook until the top layer of cabbage is cooked, about 30 minutes.

At this point, remove the pan from heat and carefully lift the mass from the pot using two spatulas (you may want to employ some help, though it is possible with just one person!), leaving the juices behind. Return the pot with juice to low heat. Add the cornstarch mixture and pepper and stir gently for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the mound of cabbage. Cut the layers into slices (like lasagna) and serve with generous amounts of sauce over hot jasmine rice.

Separating the ingredients into portions helps to make sure the layers are even

Layering in the pot -- notice the top half of the cabbage leaf fills the entire pot!

Braised cabbage, ready for eating!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cream Braised Green Cabbage

Now that we are harvesting cabbage, I cannot stop making this.

A bed of Gonzales cabbages.

Excerpted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, including author's tips.

This recipe calls for a fairly small cabbage. I like to use small ones because they're often sweeter and more tender than their big-headed siblings. If, however, you can only find a larger cabbage, you can certainly use it. Just be sure to only use as many wedges as fit into a single layer in the pan, and take care that each wedge is no thicker than 2 inches at its outer wedge. Otherwise, the cabbage won't cook properly.

You can also try this method on halved or quartered Brussels sprouts.

1 small green cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

First, prepare the cabbage. Pull away any bruised leaves, and trim its root end to remove any dirt. Cut the cabbage into quarters, and then cut each quarter in half lengthwise, taking care to keep a little bit of the core in each wedge. (The core will help to hold the wedge intact, so that it doesn't fall apart in the pan.) You should wind up with 8 wedges of equal size.

In a large (12-inch) skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage wedges, arranging them in a single crowded layer with one of the cut sides down. Allow them to cook, undisturbed, until the downward facing side is nicely browned, 5 to 8 minutes. I like mine to get some good color here, so that they have a sweetly caramelized flavor. Then, using a pair tongs, gently turn the wedges onto their other cut side. When the second side has browned, sprinkle the salt over the wedges, and add the cream. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and reduce the heat so that the liquid stays at a slow, gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and gently, using tongs, flip the wedges. Cook another 20 minutes, or until the cabbage is very tender and yields easily when pierced with a thin, sharp knife. Add the lemon juice, and shake the pan to distribute it evenly.

Simmer, uncovered, for a few more minutes more to thicken the cream to a glaze that loosely coats the cabbage. Serve immediately, with additional salt at the table.


  • Not wanting the indulgent richness of the cream as a side dish to accompany a summer dinner of lemon roasted chicken with rhubarb onion sauce, I followed this same cabbage recipe, but used an IPA beer instead of cream. It turned out delish and still a little creamy thanks to the butter.

Rhubarb Onion Sauce

Lemon roasted chicken with rhubarb onion sauce, roasted asparagus, and beer braised green cabbage.

This recipe for this sauce was guessed at based on this blog post, with its painfully unspecific description. I'm not actually sure the method behind this is sound (I dry sauteed a small onion. Is that done?) but it turns out delicious, so I am going to stick with it.

1 small onion, well-chopped
2 stalks of rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)

1/3 cup white sugar

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chili
salt and pepper to taste

In a small non-stick frying pan, saute the minced onion till dried out and browned a bit. Set this aside. In a small saucepan combine the sugar, red wine vinegar, and water over medium heat. Heat to a boil, stirring to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. When it begins to boil, sdd the rhubarb and dried crushed chili. When the rhubarb begins to fall apart, add in the onions and let it simmer till the rhubard has completely fallen apart and the sauce reaches a thickened jam-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Eat with fish, chicken, cheese (yes, I dipped a piece of cheddar cheese into this sauce.)
  • Stir in a generous amount of chopped mint before serving. Strange, I thought, but excellent.

The dry-sauteed chopped onion. Possibly sketchy technique.

The rhubarb is beginning to fall apart. Time to add the onion and simmer till thick.

Creamy Potato Cheese Soup

The soup is in tupperware and a mason jar because it freezes well and is now portioned out in the freezer. The color is pale, the texture ultra smooth and creamy, and the taste comforting.

The cream part of the equation comes from whole milk, cheddar cheese, and cream cheese.

I used the VERY last of 2008's yukon gold potatoes in the batch of soup I just made. August to June, amazing.

Adapted from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant

4 tbsps butter
2 cups onion
2 garlic cloves
4 oz carrots
1 lb potatoes

3 cups water or chicken stock
1 tsp dill
4 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
salt and pepper to taste


In a large soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in the butter until the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes and carrots and saute for 5-10 minutes longer. Add the stock of water and dill and simmer until all the vegetables are tender.
Puree the vegetables and their liquid with the cream cheese and milk in a blender until very smooth. Return the soup to the pot, stir in the cheddar cheese, season with salt and pepper, and reheat gently.
Garnish with fresh dill and/or chopped parsley.

Rhubarb Currant Chutney

Mmmmmmm..... The original recipe for this recipe is way too sweet for my taste, but very correctly paired with pork tenderloin, so I served this to guests with Lopez pork chops and a side of butter braised broccoli.

Adapted from Bon Appetit and brought to my attention by my friend Stacey Slate

1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 cinnamon sticks (each about 2 1/2 inches long)

2 cups 1/2-inch pieces fresh rhubarb

1/2 cup dried currants

Bring first 6 ingredients to boil in heavy medium saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add rhubarb and currants; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently until rhubarb is has tender and then has fallen apart, 5-10 minutes. Season chutney with salt. (Chutney can be made 3 days ahead. Cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before using.)



Beginning to fall apart, but not there yet, and definitely still needing to thicken.