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

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Pasta Wins Today - Quick and tasty penne pasta for a summer night

Well, it was a refreshing day today on the marsh.  While many in the state were experiencing oppressive air, we had a delightful breeze all day.  The day began with a watering of my summer garden.  I know the heat is moving in, and wanted to give the tomatoes and squash a little relief.  Fun, fun, fun as I played with the sprinkle system for about 1/2 hour to figure  out which direction it wanted to go in.

Next I decided it was time to pull up all my pea plants.  There have been fewer and fewer peas, and they were looking a bit yellow, so I thought it was time.  Of course, I scrutinized every plant before tossing it in the compost, and got quite a full basket of pea pods.  That left me with a decision of what to make for supper.  Most of the pods have gotten too starchy, and very chewy, but there were fully formed peas inside, so I split the pods and kept the peas.  That was my first ingredient for my decision on supper.

My cauliflower is now forming large heads, and one was totally ready to pick.  I could not come to a conclusion as to what I could do for a dish using cauliflower and peas, so I wrapped the cauliflower up after picking and decided it could wait for another day.

The basil has recuperated from its clipping last week.  The two jars of pesto from that trim are now gone, between my sisters family and me.  The pesto is on tap to be made tomorrow, but I haven't used the herb much in dishes yet, so I wondered how basil would taste with peas.  My mind started calculating ingredients once again.

My sister dropped a bunch of pickling cucumbers off from her garden, and mine are still very behind in growth, so they had to be done up in something today as well.  My day was filling up with tasks, but being a workaholic, I thrilled at the prospect. 

When things begin to pile up, you just have to get them done one thing at a time.  First order of business was the cucumbers.  My family are real dill pickle lovers, so we never can have enough to eat.  There is a recipe that all of us have been using for 25 years.  These pickles are the best tasting I have ever had.  Even people who hate dill pickles like this recipe.  It is easy, quick, and the flavor is amazing.  The only drawback is that the pickles lack that crispness that is enjoyed when biting into a brined and crocked pickle.  However, the ease of it makes up for that one shortcoming.


Never Fail Dill Pickles

20 pickling cucumbers ( I have discovered that cucumbers vary so much in size
                                       that sometimes you only need 4 or 5)
2 dill heads ( or a tblsp of dill seed)
2 medium cloves garlic (this is preference.  We love garlic so I use
                                        4 cloves of garlic)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar (the best is Heinz in glass bottles.  Plastic bottles
                                                  tend to have lots of floaters in the vinegar)
1 tblsp pickling or kosher salt (kosher salt is saltier tasting.  I get my pickling
                                                  salt at Agway)

Thoroughly scrub the cucumbers.  Even if it seems that a light brown spot may be just part of the color of the cucumber skin, I get rid of it.  I use a scrub brush and my fingernail to get rid of any brown discoloration.  Very important, because bacteria houses in dirt and crevices. 

Slice the unpeeled cucumbers lengthwise into halves.  Occasionally if the cucumber is really large, you might have to slice the halves into quarters. 

Fill 2 clean, dry, hot pint canning jars with cucumbers.  I don't use pints, I use wide mouth quart canning jars.  Tuck dill heads and a clove of garlic, split in half, into each jar.

Mix the water, vinegar, and salt and bring to a rapid boil.  Pour into jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the rims.  Seal with canning lids.  For pints, process in boiling hot water bath for 5 minutes.  For quarts process for 15 minutes. 

 A word about hot water boiling bath.  Start timing after the water is back to boiling after putting jars in.  If you are using a glass or ceramic top stove, make sure your canner is flat bottomed.  I use a large stock pot, not a canner, and my rack is actually a circular metal  cooling cake rack.


The cucumbers are now done, and I decide the day is too beautiful to be stuck inside an air conditioned kitchen, so I take a walk.  My eyes always scan the roadsides for berries, but today there are none to be found.  The seckle pear tree along my route is producing a lot of pears, but today is not the day to pick them.  I walk the trail to the marsh, walk around it, then head back home. 

 Refreshed, I am ready to set my sites on supper.  I have one very small zucchini squash that is beginning to turn yellow on the blossom end, so I pick it.  It is barely the size of a pickling cucumber but if I don't pick it the entire squash will turn yellow.  So what can I do with peas, a small zucchini squash and basil?  Well, there is always pasta.  So after scanning to see what kind I had, I settled on a box of penne pasta.  Here is the recipe I came up with for a side dish for supper.


Waste Not Want Not Penne Pasta
Serves 3

1/2 Box of penne pasta
1/3 cup fresh peas
1 mini zucchini squash
1/2 medium onion
your favorite ready made alfredo sauce (I used Classico Four cheese)
several basil leaves
Smart Balance original spread
Fresh parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
chopped pimento

Slice zucchini into circles, then cut circles into quarters.  Chop onion, but not too small.  Place peas, zuccini, and onion in microwave safe dish and add just enough water to fill bottom of dish.  Cook on high for about 6 minutes.  Set aside. 

Cook pasta accoring to directions.  Drain.  Toss garlic butter into pasta.  Heat up the alfredo sauce.  Want to make your own?  Make this simple 5 minute microwave alfredo sauce.

You know that vegetable dish you microwaved?  Well, add about 2 tblsp Smart Balance, and reheat in microwave for about a minute, just until butter is melted.

Chop basil leaves into small pieces, and chop pimento.  Keep an unchopped basil sprig for each dish.  To serve your pasta, first layer pasta in dish.  Top with 1/3 of the vegetables.  Spoon alfredo sauce on top of pasta/vegetables.  Grate parmesan cheese on top of sauce, then sprinkle some of the chopped basil on the sauce.  Take pimento and add on top of everything.  Place a sprig of basil off to side.  You have a tasty and beautiful pasta dish.


Our meat choice was boneless, skinless chicken tenders.  Now we have a very simple way to cook the chicken.  You need Kraft grated parmesan cheese, olive oil, and minced garlic.  Place oil in frypan, add garlic, start to heat to release garlic smell, then add tenders.  Shake on cheese, and cook at medium heat.  Keep turning over chicken and shake more cheese on when you turn.  When chicken is nicely browned, it is ready to eat.  Just make sure there is no pink in chicken, but it is usually not a problem when cooking tenders. 

Well that is it for now.  Have a great day.

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