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

Monday, July 4, 2011

Put Some By For Later

As the pea harvest reaches its peak, it is time to set my sights on ways to preserve some of those peas.  I have never been one for blanching, cooling and freezing.  When you blanch, you basically put about a pound of produce in a mesh strainer, and cook in boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes, then you plunge the stuff into a huge sink of ice water to quick cool.  Well, this requires a lot of ice.  Ice costs money, unless you are smart and make a lot of ice in advance and stick it in bags in your freezer.

Of course, if you have enough bags of ice in your freezer, there isn't much room to actually put frozen items in it.  Now, I do have an ice maker, but that takes a few hours to fill, and in all honesty it just becomes a lot of work.  So I decided a long time ago that I will freeze what I can without blanching, or freeze premade dishes. 

Peas are one of those vegetables that don't freeze well unless you blanch them first, unless you can come up with a decent recipe that you can make, then freeze.  So I set to work trying to find some kind of tasty dish that I could make up with the pea pods.  What I had on hand was garlic, butter, water, onions, dried cayenne peppers, flour, lots of herbs, and things like canned tomatoes and beans.  So as I perused my pantry, my mind began making calculations, and I started imagining what different combinations might taste like and if they would work with peas.  Finally, I had my ingredients and my method, and it was just a matter of combining everything.  Here is what I came up with.

Spicy Garlic Pea Pods


two pounds sugar snap peas with pods
4 cloves of garlic
two dried cayenne peppers
two tblsp Smart Balance Original Spread
Salt and pepper to taste (I always use sea salt)

Remove the stems from the pea pods.  Place the peas in a corningware casserole dish.  Peel garlic and chop into large pieces, enough to let their flavor out but not too small to see so you can remove later.  Take the cayenne peppers, cut off stems, cut in half, and place garlic and peppers in with the peas.  Stir a little to mix flavors.  Add salt and pepper, then put Smart Balance on top of the vegetables.  Put just enough water in the dish to fill bottom.  This will create something like steam as the peas cook.

Do not cover.  Cook in a microwave oven for about 5 minutes on 3/4 power.  Check with fork to see if peas are crisp tender, but not soft.  You may find your microwave oven only needs to cook for 4 minutes.  Or you may have to cook another 1 or 2 minutes.  Remove from microwave.

Let the dish of peas sit to cool for maybe 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally to really get the flavors to combine.  Remove peppers and garlic, and drain.  Let peas cool enough to place into freezer bags and then freeze flat until they are totally frozen.   

I can't say how this will be in a few months.  It is a new recipe, and it may not work, but I have a feeling this will definitely be a keeper in my growing family recipe file.

What can you do with these peas?  Well, I can tell you what I did with some of them before freezing.  Here is the recipe I came up with for our 4th of July  picnic on Sunday.

Cheese Tortellini Salad With Spicy Garlic Pea Pods


two 12 oz  bags Big Y Cheese Tortellini
3 oz jar pimento - perhaps 1/2 to 3/4 of  the jar. 
2.25 oz can sliced black pearl olives
1 lb spicy pea pods, fresh or frozen
Big Y Robust Italian dressing

Cook tortellini according to package.  Drain and cool with cold water.  If using fresh spicy pea pods, rinse them after cooling on counter to cool completely.  If using frozen, you might want to rinse some of the butter off of the peas before putting in salad. 

Dice the pimento, then place tortellini in bowl, and add pimento, black olives, and pea pods.  Pour Italian dressing on salad.  I used about 4 tblsp.  Mix and chill until ready to serve.

Now if you have any doubts about this salad, it was a real hit.  It was even enjoyed by the graduating seniors that were at the party, and the kids even took a second helping, so it really is mighty good.  The pea pods have just enough spice to make them pleasant, without overwhelming sensitive palates.  Try this recipe yourself, even if you don't like spicy.

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