Marsh Edge Farm Notes

Marsh Edge Farm Notes:
Welcome to my farm blog. I don't have a farm, but I do everything possible to have fresh produce on my table all summer long, as well as can and preserve much of what I grow. I live on the edge of Tolland Marsh and three years ago began calling my home garden Marsh Edge Farm. I created a label to place on all my canned goods, and everything I preserve, from jams to saurkraut end up with one of my simple labels.

I have two gardens, one is a spring garden and the other is my summer garden. From each garden I usually can grow enough to keep me in fresh vegetables for the whole summer, as well as enough to can and freeze to last the winter.

I also grow many of the herbs that go into my dishes. One of my favorite things to do with all these vegetables is create recipes that my family will eat. That is what this blog is mainly about, the recipes I develop or create in my kitchen as I experiment. Hope you enjoy reading my farm blog, and I hope you will try some of my recipes.

Updates for 2014

After a few years of very bad crops, I have left behind the vegetable gardens for awhile. However, I have found that fresh produce is available throughout the summer at the many farmers markets in the area. Here is a list of some of the markets and farms I gather my fresh fruits and vegetables from.

Rockville Farmers Market: Thursdays from 10 to 1 at the courthouse parking lot.

Tolland Farmers Market: Saturdays from 9 to 12 on the green.

Coventry Regional Farmers Market: Sundays from 11 to 2 at the Nathan Hale Homestead on South St.

Wright's Orchard on South River Road in Tolland, CT

Larry Lemeks Berries on Goose Lane in Tolland, CT.

Johnny Appleseeds Peach Orchard on Old Schoolhouse Rd. in Ellington, CT.

Buell Orchards in Eastford, CT.

There are many other farmers markets throughout the state of Connecticut on different days as well as numerous roadside stands. Support your local farmers no matter how small and you will gain in health and well being by eating the freshest of the fresh.

A link to the Connecticut Farmers Markets for 2014

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bisquick Spinach Bread - With A Few Changes

We all had a hankering for a nice bread recipe.  Cooler temperatures yesterday, and the stores bringing out their fall merchandise must have set us in a warm, fuzzy mood.  The kitchen is usually scented with baking vegetable, fruit and bread machine bread beginning in mid August, when the apples begin to ripen.  Some of my favorites include zucchini bread, cottage cheese dill bread, apple bread, and tomato-basil bread. 

Since it is still considered mid-summer despite the temperatures barely making 75 yesterday, I didn't want to worry too much about lots of work.  I looked through my bread books, went online, and couldn't find anything that seemed to be relatively quick.  Then I remembered a small pamplet style cookbook put out by Bisquick many years ago.  I went rifling through all my cookbooks and on the third look I finally found it. 

As I scanned the pages, it dropped open to a page with a recipe called Spinach-Cheese Bread.  I have made this many times before, and always thought it a bit salty, but my family always loved this bread.  So I knew the one thing I would be changing right off is instead of spinach I would be using swiss chard.  The chard has slowed down a lot in its growth compared to a few weeks ago, but there was definitely enough to get the amount I needed for the recipe. 

Some of the equipment I would recommend to make it easier to make the bread is a food processor.  It isn't necessary because the chard can be first cut into ribbons, then hand chopped, but the food processor does make the task a bit quicker. 

This particular bread is a wonderful summer bread if you follow the directions as Bisquick wrote them.  The bread doesn't take much to make and it doesn't keep the kitchen super hot for long periods of time.  First I will provide the Bisquick recipe for the cowards out there (only kidding.)  No processor required, and because you are playing with frozen vegetables, it is great to work with on a hot summer day. 

My one problem with the Bisquick recipe is that it does seem too salty.  I am salt sensitive and find the use of processed or canned products make the flavor too drying for my tastes.  However, when I bake this for the men in my life and the children, they all think it is awesome, and it gets eaten quite quickly, so it definitely will be a winner with any family. 


Spinach-Cheese Bread by Bisquick

3 cups Bisquick baking mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon caraway seed
3 eggs
1 can (11 ounces) condensed Cheddar cheese soup
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease loaf pan, 9 x 5 x 3 inches

Mix all ingredients except spinach until well blended.  Beat 1 minute; stir in spinach until well blended.  Pour into pan.

Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes.  Cool 20 minutes; remove from pan.

High altitude directions (3500 to 6500 feet)  Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Stir 1/4 cup all purpose flour into baking mix.  Increase eggs to 4.  Decrease oil to 2 tblsp.  Bake 50 to 55 minutes.


That is the quick and easy way to make this bread.  Since I had a problem with the flavor of the bread using the cheddar soup, I had to think of a way to get the soup without using the soup.  I decided on a nice cheddar white sauce mixed in instead of the soup.  Here is my more labor intensive bread, using fresh swiss chard instead of frozen spinach.  The time involved in making it my way is about 3 1/2 hours, which may be a bit much for one loaf of bread, but as I make it more often I will get quicker at it.  Of course, I also missed my original intention of finding a quick recipe that didn't take too much work.  But the work was well worth the result.


Savory Swiss Chard-Cheese Bread

3 cups Heart Smart Bisquick baking mix
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dill seed
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 cup cheddar white sauce (recipe below)
10 ounces fresh chopped swiss chard, stems removed (about 2 cups)
1/4 to 1/3 cup feta cheese (your preference.  I did not measure, I just grabbed three handfuls and mixed in)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 inch bread pan. 

Swiss chard prep:  Cut away stems from chard.  I ususally cut about 1/2 inch above where stem attaches to leaf.  Stems can be kept for other recipes if you wish.  After removing leaf, using a scale measure about 10 ozs.    Once measured
wash leaves in a bowl of water.  Continue dumping and filling bowl with fresh water until you no longer see any grit in water.  Squeeze leaves to remove all excess water, then place in small batches in food processor and chop the leaves.  If you don't have a processor, then cut leaves into ribbons, then chop them.  This is probably the most lengthy part of the whole recipe.                                                                   
Once again measure the chopped leaves on a scale to get about 10 ozs.  Set aside. 

To make the cheese white sauce, grate 1 cup of cheddar cheese.  Set aside. 
Scald one cup of milk (heat just to before boil.  I use a microwave, and heat about 2 minutes.)  Set aside.

Place two tablespoons butter or margerine in stainless saucepan and melt on medium low.  Add two tablespoons unbleached flour, stirring to blend.  Always use a wooden spoon when making white sauce.  Do not cook too long or flour will burn.  The milk and flour will create a paste.  Slowly add scalded milk, stirring constantly.  Add some salt and pepper..

Continue stirring on medium low for about 10 or 15 minutes as sauce begins to thicken. You will feel the milk mixture get thicker as you stir. Once mixture is thickened to about the consistancy of a medium gravy, remove from heat. Stir in cheese. Continue stirring until smooth. If you have to place back on burner to melt, make sure burner is off. Set aside off of stove to cool.

As your cheese sauce cools, mix all other ingredients except the chard.  Beat for about a minute.  Add cheese sauce when it is just lukewarm.  Mix.  Add chard.  This is where your preference comes in.  When I measured the 10 ozs, as I was putting it into the bread mix, it seemed to be too much so I did not use all the chard.  I also did not measure how much I used, so I would say anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 cups. 

Place bread dough into bread pan, level it, and then bake for about 55 to 65 minutes, until long toothpick inserted comes out clean. 


The bread was incredibly well textured, though it did come out a little high.  Perhaps reducing the eggs to 2 might decrease the height of the bread, but I did not mind that it was so high.  The first taste of this bread, and I knew I had finally done something right.  It is delicious, and the time spent making it just disappears as you take a second piece and then a third.  Love this bread.  It is definitely a keeper.

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