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

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Vegetable Dishes with Tolland Cookbook Club - Mar. 16, 2015

 Preview for my entry that will be updated during the week.  I will add photos, and add the recipes brought by the members of the cookbook club.

It was our monthly cookbook club gathering at the Tolland Library on Mar. 16, 2015.  This months theme was vegetable dishes, which is rather hard at this time of year.  Most of our favorite summer choices lack flavor when we head for the grocery store for our weekly groceries.  Though I try to stick with in season produce, which means primarily root vegetables for the winter, I often times substitute frozen vegetables for fresh when I want to try a recipe. 

I chose a cookbook from the library put out by Williams Sonoma.  It is part of the Time Life books series.  The book, entitled Vegetables, (link) has some wonderful recipes in it, but what drew me to it was one recipe that sounded quite delicious.  I tested the recipe out last Friday, and it was as good as I thought it would be.  For my first entry, I share the recipe called Sweet Potato Pudding, which is good in the winter with a simple soup and bread, or as a side dish with turkey or ham at holiday time.  For my part, I would definitely make this again, and I would also choose to serve it to company.  It is elegant and hearty at the same time.

                                              Sweet Potato Pudding
Prep. time - 45 minutes
Cook time - 30-40 minutes
Servings - 4 to 5


3 sweet potatoes, about 1 1/2 lb. (750 g)
     total weight.
1/3 cup (3 fl oz/80 ml) heavy (double)
     cream (see note at end)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons bourbon ( I used 
      Jim Beam)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ceylon cinnamon (link)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pecan halves for topping, optional 


1.) Preheat oven to 375*F (190*C).  Butter a 1-1 1/2 qt. (1-1.5-1) souffle dish.

2.) Place the unpeeled sweet potatoes in a large saucepan, add cold water to cover and bring to boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until tender, 30-40 minutes.  Drain and let cool.  
      Microwave directions - Place potatoes on dish, and microwave from 12-15 minutes till tender.  
                                             Turn over halfway through cooking time.

3.)  Peel the sweet potatoes. 


4.) Transfer to a food processor                                
fitted with the metal blade 
and puree.   


 5.)  Add the cream, eggs and                    
      butter and process to blend. 

 6.)  Add the bourbon,
       lemon juice      
       and zest, nutmeg, cinnamon
       and ginger and process again
       to mix.  Season to taste with salt
       and process for a few seconds to
       blend the ingredients.

7.)  Spoon into the prepared dish.
       Place in a large baking pan and
       pour in hot water to reach
       halfway up the
       sides of the dish.
     Do not get any water in
        the pudding.

8.)  Place in the oven and bake
      until puffed and golden brown 
      on top about 40 minutes.
      Garnish top
      with pecan halves
      if desired.   Serve hot
      directly from the souffle dish.

      Slice up and enjoy with family and friends.  It is also good cold, and if you don't add the salt, it has a sweet enough taste to actually be a dessert.  The texture was extremely creamy and held its shape when cut and served.

Note:  The use of double cream is rather difficult in the United States.  You have to create it yourself with existing available similar ingredients.  You can substitute a homemade version of double cream, (link) or become creative as I did.  I bought Chobani plain greek yogurt, and added 1 1/2 teaspoons to heavy cream and mixed the two to make 1/3 cup.  By using yogurt, I had to add about 10 minutes to the cook time, but I believe it did make the pudding very creamy with that hint of sweetness. 


                                        Chinese - Style Vegetables 
Prep time:  25 minutes
Cook time: 2-4 minutes
Servings:  4


1/4 cup (2 floz/60ml) cold-pressed sesame oil
     or safflower oil
3 tender celery stalks, trimmed and cut
     on the diagonal
1/2 lb (250 g) green beans, trimmed
     and cut on the diagonal
6 cauliflower florets
     cut on the diagonal
6 broccoli florets
     cut on the diagonal.
1 small bok choy, leaves cut into
     thin slivers.
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) vegetable stock,
     heated (I used Emerils organic)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup (3 oz/90 g) pine nuts
     or almonds


1.)  Warm the oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium heat.  Add the celery, beans, cauliflower
       broccoli and bok choy and stir until coated with the oil.  

2.)  Raise the heat to high, add 1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) of the stock, the soy sauce and red pepper  
      flakes.  Stir constantly until the vegetables are barely tender, 2-4 minutes, depending on
      how well done you prefer them.    When the stock evaporates, add only enough
      remaining stock as needed to prevent sticking.  

3.)  Taste for seasoning and adjust with more soy sauce and/or pepper flakes.  Stir in the 
       pine nuts or almonds (if using almonds, coarsely chop them) and serve.

Opinion of this recipe:  For my personal tastes, I would either reduce the celery or leave it out entriely.  I found it to be far stronger than I expected it to be.  Other than that, another change I might make is using sesame seeds in the recipe.  The sesame oil does create a nice sesame flavor, but I just happen to love using seeds in my cooking.  

Serving suggestion:  Buy the Thai Peanut Sauce Powder mix, and add to unsweetened coconut milk.  Stir fry thin strips of chicken, and mix with the peanut sauce.  Serve with jasmine rice and the vegetables.  

For my last offering to the club, I used a recipe from another William Sonoma cookbook, also from the Time Life Books.  This recipe book is excellent during the farmers market season of May through October.  It uses the freshest, tastiest ingredients.  Cooking From The Farmers Market.  (link)
can be used throughout the winter by using frozen vegetables or opting for out of season vegetables.  I have added winter alterations to the recipe.  I am sure it will taste much better in season.  I made these quesadillas and brought them to the group for a taste test as well.

Quesadillas With Heirloom Tomatoes and Sweet Corn Salsa  

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings:  4

2 lb. (1kg) assorted heirloom or                               1/4 cup (1/3 oz/10 g) chopped fresh cilantro
   other tomatoes. (I used plum
    tomatoes and vine ripened)
    coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt                                                    1 or 2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground pepper                                         2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ears of corn, white or yellow                                  2 tablespoons lime juice
   or a mixture, husks removed
   (I used 3-4 cups frozen corn)
2 tablespoons canola or other                                     1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I used 
   light vegetable oil                                                        Mexican style Chile Powder)
1 large, ripe avocado, halved,                                     8 flour tortillas, each about 10 inches
   pitted and peeled and cut into                                       (25 cm) in diameter
   1.2 inch (12mm) dice                                               1/2 lb (250 g) Monterey jack or other
1/2 cup ( 3 oz/90 g) minced red onion                        mild cheese, shredded

1.)  Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. 
                 WINTER DIRECTIONS:  Use an electric grill (link)

2.)  Place the chopped tomatoes in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper.  Stir to mix and set aside.

3.)  Brush the ears of corn with 1 tablespoon of the oil.  When the coals are medium-hot, place the corn on the grill rack and grill, turning often, until tender and lightly bronzed, 8 - 10 minutes.  Remove from the grill rack and let cool.
                  WINTER DIRECTIONS: Mix frozen corn with oil.  Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid smoke. 
                                                             Grill until browned and tender.

4.)  In a bowl, combine the avocado, onion, cilantro, serrano chilie, garlic, lime juice, chili powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Cut off the kernels from the corn cobs (or just add the grilled frozen corn) and add to the avocado mixture.  Stir to mix 

5.)  In a frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  When it is hot, place 1 tortilla in the pan and cook until the edges begin to curl slightly, 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle with some cheese down the center.  Using a spatula, fold the tortilla in half and press down on the top.  Cook until the underside is golden brown, about 30 seconds, then turn and continue to cook on the second side until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 30 seconds longer.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.  Repeat until all the tortillas are cooked.  

Tip:  If you happen to have a George Foreman grill, you can reduce your cooking time by using it to cook both sides at the same time. You might even be able to use a waffle maker, but you would have to experiment. 

6.)  Spoon several tablespoons of the tomatoes and the corn salsa inside each quesadilla and serve at once.  

Opinion of this recipe:  I LOVED it.  I would have liked a bit more smokey flavor, so when I make it again, I will use perhaps 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke.  This is a real keeper, and the tomato/corn salsa mixture makes a wonderful dip for chips, as well as a spread on crackers.  Of course, serving in the heated and browned tortilla shells is the best way to enjoy this recipe.


Some of the other recipes offered at the meeting follow.  I have not tried any of them, but a few, such as the Fresh Mushroom Soup, and Bell Peppers stuffed with Rice, Spinach and Sun Dried Tomatoes sound interesting.  No photos will be added unless I make the recipes to update later.

                            Bell Peppers Stuffed with Rice, 
                  Spinach and Sun Dried Tomatoes      
Prep time:  25 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Servings - 4 if using large peppers
                  8 if using extra large peppers by splitting in half.

4 large green, red or yellow bell peppers
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
3 to 4 cups cooked long-grain white or brown rice (used 2 cups)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (Used the oil from the sun dried tomatoes)
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 large bunch spinach, washed, trimmed and
   coarsely chopped (Used 5 oz container baby spinach)

Preheat oven to 350* F
Slice off the tops of the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes.  Plunge the peppers into a pot of boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly softened.  I have often skipped this step, because the peppers end up being too mushy when you bake them.  If you do use the boiling water, then immediately put the cooked peppers into ice water to stop any further cooking.  This may keep more strength to the pepper as well as tenderize it just enough.  Set aside cut side down to drain.

Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the spinach, garlic and tomatoes and cook until the spinach is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the rice, parsley, salt and pepper and stir to combine.  

Fill the peppers with the rice mixture and place upright in a baking dish.  Add a few tablespoons of water to the baking dish, cover and bake until the filling is hot and the peppers are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.  Serve hot.  

One additional adjustment that was made was instead of using water, add a 16 oz. can of tomato sauce.  Other things you can do is use tomato juice for a less thick sauce, and I have even added a little vinegar to tomato soup and used that as well.   There are many variations you can do depending on your tastes.

                    Fresh Mushroom Soup 

3 tablespoons butter                                      2 1/2 pints (6 cups) vegetable stock
1 onion, finely chopped                                2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 shallot, finely chopped                              4 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup white wine                                       salt and pepper to taste
1 lb 9 oz. mushrooms, sliced                        2/3 cup light cream or whole milk
3 tablespoons all purpose flour 

1.)  Melt half the butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and season
      with salt and pepper.  Cook for 10 minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
      Remove from heat.
2.)  Melt the remaining butter in saucepan, add onions and shallots, cook 2-3 minutes
      until just softened.  Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Add wine and stock, 
      stir well.  
3.)  Set aside about 1/4 of the mushrooms.  Add remainder to stock pot.  Reduce heat, 
      cover and cook gently for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
4.)  Allow soup to cool slightly, then puree.
5.)  Stir in remaining mushrooms, cream and parsley.
6.)  Ladle into bowls, swirl in sour cream, garnish with chopped parsley.  

Next month we will be meeting on April 20 at 6:30 p.m at the Tolland Library.  The subject will be CHOCOLATE!!!   I do believe this particular session will be very popular, and I can count on lots of samples being brought.

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