Cranberry Orange VinegarThe holidays are rapidly approaching and gift giving is in the air. I like to give homemade gifts to my friends and family. One year, when my older daughter was away at college and my nephew was overseas with the army, I decided to sew stocking advent calendars. I planned to sew 48 small stockings (enough for two projects), string them on a ribbon, fill them with little gifts and goodies, and have all this done and in the mail so they’d both have the advent calendars by December 1st.

I diligently began my project as soon as the Halloween decorations were put away. I purchased fun, seasonal cloth at a fabric store, cute trimmings to add to the stockings, and wide, decorative ribbon. The first calendar came together quickly and I shipped it off to Iraq filled with treats and surprises. And then my nightmare began.

Let me explain, I don’t like to sew. Though I have a sewing machine, I view it as an evil, thread-tangling demon that waits until my darkest hour of sewing need to ambush my desires. The second set of stockings dragged on and on: thread would break or tangle, I’d sew the wrong sides of the fabric together, or I’d stab myself with needle or scissors. Midnights came and went with me at the sewing machine. The project became a labor rather than a joy. I did finish and I did mail the advent calendar to my daughter who enjoyed having a small gift every day until Christmas, but I swore, “No more sewing projects!”

The advent calendar struggle taught me a valuable lesson: homemade gifts should be easy and enjoyable to make! For me, that means I need to concentrate my handcrafting efforts on gardening and cooking, two of my favorite pastimes.

One of the easiest gifts to make is infused vinegar. First, pick-up a gallon of vinegar at your local grocery. I prefer to use white but any will do. You’ll also need four or five clean quart jars with lids for the infusing process. I like to make a variety of vinegar flavors and have suggestions below, but you can make the vinegar into just one or two flavors. Don’t limit yourself to my suggestions, if you really love plums, make plum vinegar. If your aunt loves garlic, make her an over-the-top garlic infusion.

Infusion suggestions:

1.        6 cloves garlic, halved; 2 hot chilies like Serrano or Jalapeño, sliced; ½ bunch cilantro.

2.        1 blood orange, washed & sliced; 4-6 sprigs fresh rosemary.

3.        2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped; 1 tablespoon sugar; strips of orange zest from 1 orange.

4.        3 shallots peeled and quartered; strips of lemon zest from 1 lemon, 6-8 sprigs of fresh tarragon. If you can’t find fresh tarragon, use 2 teaspoons dried.

5.        2 cups fresh or frozen berries slightly crushed: raspberry, blueberry, blackberry.

Here’s the process: Rinse the flavorings and shake off water. If using frozen berries, simply thaw them. Place flavorings in jars. Heat vinegar in a couple of sauce pans on the stove. Do NOT boil, just heat through. Once the vinegar is hot, pour it into the waiting jars. Screw lids on and store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks. Once the 2-3 weeks is over, strain the vinegar through cheesecloth or a jelly strainer and pour it into gift jars:  smaller jars you’ve purchased or repurposed jars you’ve saved. When repurposing jars, be sure to wash them thoroughly.

When you’re repackaging the flavored vinegars into smaller jars, you can add a sprig of whatever flavoring you’ve used: a slice of orange, a couple of strips of lemon zest, a few berries. These are just for decoration. The flavorings you used to infuse the vinegar should be discarded.

Tie a tag on the jar with holiday ribbon or yarn. You can also create your own paper or adhesive labels. If you like, add use suggestions such as: “Sprinkle on salad with a little olive oil for dressing. “ Or “Add to sauces and soups for some homemade zing.” Infused vinegars will keep for a year and it’s useful to add “Good until December 2015” and “Refrigerate” to your label.




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Happy PEAS Farm lesson

Kids happy to get their hands dirty at the PEAS Farm

Join us on December 9th, 6 pm, at the MCPS Business Building, 915 South Avenue West!  And help us spread the word — and invite your friends, too!

The GCH/EVST PEAS Farm sits on 10 acres of Missoula County Public School land. Over the past six years Garden City Harvest has been working with the City of Missoula and MCPS on a new long-term lease for this property, including the 3 acres of playing fields south of the farm.

The end of this long process is in sight! The School Board will be considering a 40 year lease with the City of Missoula (who would then sub-lease to Garden City Harvest) at their board meeting on Tuesday, December 9th. Help us secure this community resource for 40 years to come by showing the School Board how important this is – whether you’re a parent, teacher, student, volunteer neighbor, CSA shareholder or just a fan of the PEAS Farm.  Filling the room with PEAS Farm supporters who are willing to simply stand in support of the farm, would show the trustees how beloved the PEAS Farm is to this community.

No need to comment, just come and stand with us. Garden City Harvest Executive Director, Jean Zosel and PEAS Farm Director, Josh Slotnick will comment, asking supporters to raise their hands to show they are there in support for the farm!

Student seeding

A visiting class helps seed the PEAS Farm on a spring time field trip. Photo by Mike Plautz.

The PEAS Farm is an outdoor classroom for students of all ages, from pre-school through university. We host 4,000 kids on educational farm field trips each year, and provide bus transportation. We grow tons (literally!) of food for the Food Bank, farm CSA subscribers, volunteer workers and more. This farm is a place where community members of all stripes come together to work, eat, and grow in the fields.

How to help:

The School Board will be considering a 40 year lease with the City of Missoula (who would then lease to us) on Tuesday, December 9th, 6 pm, MCPS Business Building, 915 South Avenue West. To see the agenda (we are #11) click here, and download the agenda.

Other ways to help:
1. Share this on Facebook: “Join me to support the PEAS Farm as they ask the Missoula County Public School Board for a 40 year lease on December 9th, 6 pm at the MCPS Business Building, 915 South Avenue West.”
2.  Call five friends and ask them to come to the meeting.
3. Email 10 friends and link to this blog post, inviting them to the meeting.

And thanks for being part of this community farm.

Posted in Farm to School, Neighborhood Farms, PEAS Farm, Volunteer for Veggies, Youth Harvest | Leave a comment

Paperwhite Narcissus

Missoula’s winters can by long, and grey. If you plan now, you can have color through the winter by forcing bulbs. As the long nights and short days of winter approach, I’m ready to enjoy a blossom or two.  Forcing is the process of inducing bulbs to bloom when you want them to, rather than when they would normally flower.

It’s November now, but the ground in my flower garden has yet to freeze hard and it’s not too late for me to dig my own crocus, daffodil, or grape hyacinth for forcing. If I dig them now, place them in my fridge for the twelve weeks of cold they require before blooming, I’ll have flowers in late January or early February. If digging up your own bulbs seems like too much work (or you’ve forgotten what’s growing where under your mulch) purchase some bulbs from a nursery or flower catalog. If you dig or buy bulbs, be sure to wrap them with paper towels, place them in a paper bag and set in your fridge for 12 weeks. If you’d rather not use your fridge space for bulbs, Paperwhite narcissus  do not require a chilling period and are the easy to force.

The most common narcissus color is white, but if white’s not your color, don’t worry; they come in other colors too. The bulbs can be found at Missoula’s nurseries or from a variety of mail order companies. To force any bulb after the chilling period, you’ll need a shallow tray or dish, with sides about two inches tall. I like to use a clear, Pyrex dish that’s 5×7 inches. The clear glass lets me easily see root growth. Fill the bottom of the tray or dish with small pebbles, crushed rock, glass beads, or marbles. Now, add water to cover the pebbles and then secure the bulbs in the pebbles deeply enough so that the basal plate is in contact with the water. Keep the main body of the bulb above the water, this will prevent rot from setting in. (The basal plate is the roundish area on the bottom of the bulb where the root growth forms).

Paperwhite Narcissus

Keep the bulbs in a cool, dark room until you see root growth. Once roots can be seen, move the dish to a sunny location. Each Paperwhite bulb will send up several flower stems bearing many tiny blossoms. I like to fill the entire dish space with bulbs, creating a plentiful flower garden. You can separate tulip and hyacinth bulbs into individual containers or vases too. Nurseries often carry “forcing vases.” They’re simply shaped to hold the basal plate in the water and the main bulb out of the water, keeping the bulb happy.

Experiment and see what you like best. No matter if you force a single bulb or several dozen, you can create a little burst of spring to brighten your house throughout the winter!

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Campos at Willard HighMissoulian article by Keila Szpaller, photos by Tom Bauer, 10/26/2014

Editor’s note
This year, the Missoulian had a reporter and photographer spend time with the Youth Harvest Project of Garden City Harvest, a nonprofit with a mission to build community through agriculture. Formed in 2003, the Youth Harvest Project is a therapeutic work program with a focus on service, and it hires eight to 12 teens each year to work on the PEAS Farm in the Rattlesnake Valley. The PEAS Farm, Program in Ecological Agriculture and Society, is a program of Garden City Harvest and the Environmental Studies program of the University of Montana. It operates on land owned by Missoula County Public Schools and subleased to Garden City Harvest through the city of Missoula.

Skyler Villwock was bullied at a traditional high school for his weight and his speech impediment.

His brother had gone to Willard Alternative High School, and Villwock’s mom recommended he enroll there, too.

“Going to Willard changed our lives. I’m kind of glad my mom knew about Willard,” Villwock said.

This year, Villwock was one of 12 teens who worked for the Youth Harvest Project of Garden City Harvest. Youth Harvest is a therapy and service program that puts teens to work on the PEAS Farm in the Rattlesnake Valley.

Most of the crew members came from Willard this year, and over the course of the season, as they weeded around cabbage heads in the field and bagged beets for the Missoula Food Bank, their school was a frequent topic of conversation. When Karrina Campos first told her dad she wanted to go to Willard, she said he advised her against it, noting the bad reputation of students there.

This year, Campos’ father encouraged her to not work while school was in session so she could focus on her classes at Willard.

As far as many teens are concerned, Willard Alternative High School is a rock.

“Willard is like a family almost,” said Cody Lesh.


One morning last week, Cecil B. Crawford stood on a small hand-woven rug on the steps outside Willard at 901 S. Sixth St. W. Crawford, a Native American specialist for Missoula County Public Schools, shook hands with every single student in his morning ritual. “Sometimes, it’s a fist bump.”

“A lot of these guys go through a lot of trauma. A lot of them have never been told, ‘Good morning,’” Crawford said.

He greets them for himself and for them. It makes him feel good, he said, and it allows him to take the temperature of the student body.

“I can tell if a student is having a bad day. I can nip it in the bud right there,” Crawford said.

Just the other day, a couple of parents walked up the steps where Crawford stands on the rug that was made for him by a student. He thought the parents were going inside the building, but they stopped by just to tell him their child had a paper to write, and the student had written about Crawford’s influence.

“This could be done at every school,” Crawford said of his good mornings.

Inside, Campos ate breakfast during her life skills class with Carolyn Grimaldi. The topic of the day was Facebook, and the eight students talked about its pros and cons.

“A con will be people will be misunderstood a lot because there’s no voice inflection,” Campos said.

Campos and Villwock

Grimaldi tells them even if they don’t like Facebook, they can use their knowledge of it as a skill when they apply for jobs. Many companies want to hire people who can run their social media pages, she said.

The students tell her they would rather learn about banking and renting apartments and applying for scholarships. They ask about an absent classmate.

“There was a death in (her) family, so we’ll be really nice to her when she comes back,” Grimaldi said.


Early in the season on the farm, Youth Harvest director Laurie Strand Bridgeman talked with the crew in the barn about work expectations. She told them she knew they had attendance and behavior standards in school, and crew member Katelyn Cox chimed in to note it’s harder to pass classes at Willard.

“You have to have your grades higher than at other schools,” Cox said.

There’s also less homework, Campos said. At her other school, she had “all this pointless math,” 64 problems a night sometimes, and at Willard, she can complete her homework in class.

“Willard is awesome like that,” Campos said.

On the farm, she and other crew members talk about cliques, getting bullied and being ignored by teachers – essentially, getting swallowed up by an institution. The alternative school has shortcomings, too, but they appear to be lost on the students.

Every day on the farm, crew members share their highs and lows, and toward the end of summer, Sierra Gehring had school on her mind.

“My high is that school is about to start. Usually, that wouldn’t be a high, but since I’m going to Willard, I’m pretty excited,” Gehring said.

Posted in Neighborhood Farms, PEAS Farm, Youth Harvest | Leave a comment

Missoulian article by Keila Szpaller, photos by Tom Bauer, 10/26/2014

Editor’s note
This year, the Missoulian had a reporter and photographer spend time with the Youth Harvest Project of Garden City Harvest, a nonprofit with a mission to build community through agriculture. Formed in 2003, the Youth Harvest Project is a therapeutic work program with a focus on service, and it hires eight to 12 teens each year to work on the PEAS Farm in the Rattlesnake Valley. The PEAS Farm, Program in Ecological Agriculture and Society, is a program of Garden City Harvest and the Environmental Studies program of the University of Montana. It operates on land owned by Missoula County Public Schools and subleased to Garden City Harvest through the city of Missoula.

Hannah Ellison worked in the Youth Harvest Project of Garden City Harvest in 2006. This year, she returned to the farm to do an internship as part of her University of Washington studies in Law, Societies and Justice. Here’s an adapted question and answer with Ellison about her first season with the program and her return this year.

Q. How did you sign on with the Youth Harvest Project?

A. I had left home, and I had been doing drugs and living on the street. We had known Josh Slotnick, director of the PEAS Farm, because my dad had gone to college with him. My dad was considering putting me in foster care and some other things like that. I had been de-toxing in Roundup, and we were passing through Missoula.

Josh said, “Why don’t you meet up with my friend Tim Ballard, who started the program in 2003? Maybe he can help you.” So we met up with Tim Ballard in the Good Food Store. My father and I had a screaming match in the store, and Tim said, “Well, this isn’t going to work.” He took me on a hike in the Rattlesnake and told me about the program. He offered me a position to work and get paid on the farm. And I was ready for that.

Q. How long did you spend with the program? What was it like, and how did it affect you?

A. I did just that one summer. I also worked for Garden City Harvest’s farms on the Orchard Homes garden and at Greg Price’s River Road farm. That summer was magical for me. I had never had my own living area, so I had this apartment room that I was renting. It was the first time in my life where I’d had my own space. It was the first time in my life where I’d been treated by adults like I was someone who mattered, and my work, what I was doing with my hands every day, meant something to the people that were around me. So it was vital to who I am now.

Q. The teens this year talked about how you spent nights in Big Red, the panel truck on the farm. Is that true? Why were you doing that?

A. I was homeless. I lost that room. I was living on my own and putting myself through high school and I wasn’t 18 so I couldn’t sign a lease. I was camping up by the Rattlesnake Creek and sleeping in Big Red when it got cold.

Q. Why did you come back this year?

A. The Law, Societies and Justice program requires an internship. For years, I’d been wanting to go back to the PEAS Farm to volunteer and be a part of it and meet kids and see if I could help. I thought being on the other side of that life, I had something to offer them. The internship fit the criteria of the program because Youth Harvest is looking at harm reduction for these kids instead of just processing them in the system on this conveyor belt. And it was mostly a personal adventure for me. I was ready. The story didn’t end after I got out of the program. Life didn’t suddenly blossom and become this beautiful flower, but finally, I have become my full person. I’m 25. My daughter, Maya, is beautiful and 6. And I felt strong, I felt I could finally be something for someone else instead of just trying to take care of myself.

Q. What was it like to come back?

A. It was kind of weird. I felt like if I had been able to have a little bit more unstructured time with the kids, it would have been different. But every moment was so structured, there was no room for a genuine interaction. It felt strained. But I liked all of them for different reasons, and I was able to engage as a funny friend more than as a mentor. We laughed and bantered and talked about inappropriate stuff, and I think that was valuable to them, too, but who knows.

Q. Did the program have a lasting impact on your life?

A. I was a really troubled person. I was very self-destructive. I was so hurt by the world, and I had been so mistrusted and abused and just hurt, and almost every person I came in contact with wanted something from me. I came to the farm, and it was first of all, beautiful. And I simply worked all day and I made these beautiful relationships with these adults, these college students, and Josh and Ethan Smith, the operations manager, and all of these people who I got to see again this summer. And it was those relationships that were important. They would tell me how good I was doing, how strong I was, and I would look across the fields and know what I planted and when and with who. It was, again, that I mattered. Somehow, I mattered. I was important, and the work I was doing with others was important to them, too. That started a foundation for me for being a person.



Posted in Neighborhood Farms, PEAS Farm, Youth Harvest | Leave a comment

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa Ingredients

Fall has arrived in Missoula. Frost has come and gone, and come again. My garden is winding down and my kitchen is full of garden bounty. Tomatoes rest in boxes, ripening at their leisure. Onions, garlic, and winter squash are tucked away in a warm spot in the garage. Jars of dilled green beans and carrots wait patiently in my cupboard for a festive occasion. Tomatillos nestle inside their husks, ready to liven-up dinner with a fresh citrusy bite.

Tomatillos are easy to grow. They like a sunny, well-drained garden spot and are tolerant of dry spells. I like to plant them at the edge of the garden, an area I can water less than that planted with moisture demanding vegetables like cucumbers, lettuce, and beans. Tomatillos grow 2 to 3 feet tall, host small yellow flowers, and produce green or purple fruits surrounded by a papery husk. The color of the fruit depends on the variety you plant – the purple are beautiful but lose their color when cooked. If you leave the fruits on the plants long enough, they’ll turn yellow and will become sweet. Tomatillos are ready to pick when they “fill out” the husk surrounding them. At the green stage, they have a citrus tang with strong lime overtones.

Once picked, tomatillo fruits will last for several weeks in the refrigerator or (my preference) in the cupboard. Leave the husks on and do not seal in an airtight container or plastic bag. Keep them in a colander or paper bag. They freeze very well. Simply remove the husks, put fruit in a container or Ziploc bag and place in the freezer. To use, thaw the tomatillos and add to sauces, vegetable or chicken soup, or make into cooked salsa.

My favorite use for fresh tomatillos is salsa. . .  Here’s a recipe.

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa


  • 1 ½ pounds fresh tomatillos, husked, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium sized avocados, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped (Slightly firm avocados work fine in this recipe. Helpful hint: If you pour the lime juice directly over the chopped avocados, they will be less likely to oxidize and brown.)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and chopped (1 cup or so)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 red jalapenos, coarsely chopped (If you don’t like heat, add half of a chopped red bell pepper. You can also heat up this salsa: add several jalapeno, serrano, or habanero peppers. You can use green jalapenos too; you just won’t have the color contrast.)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Salt & black pepper to taste (I use just a quick sprinkle of each.)

Combine all ingredients. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors meld; stir, and serve

This fresh tomatillo salsa is great served with tortilla chips or carrot and celery sticks. I like to serve it as a “sauce” for grilled chicken or seared salmon. It’s also a delicious addition to tacos, burritos, or quesadillas.

Fun Facts: a single tomatillo has approximately 11 calories, 3% DV of potassium, 7% DV of Vitamin C. So, if you eat 10 tomatillos in your serving of salsa, you’ve consumed, roughly, 30% of the potassium and 70% of the Vitamin C you need for the day. Tomatillos – delicious and good for you! (Basic nutritional information from Wikipedia.)

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I don’t know about you, but I spent my weekend peeling tomatoes for tomato sauce and slicing and drying apples for my daughter’s winter lunches. It can feel overwhelming, the amount of work it takes to put it all up.

At this time of year, it only seems right to re-post this great blog by Cori Ash, Manager of the Youth Farm, about putting up your stores for the winter. So here it is. And enjoy the mayhem.  You’ll thank yourself in a month, and another month and another month.


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My mom hates Brussels sprouts because they unearth memories of the ones from the frozen food aisle that she was forced to eat as a kid.  But such bitter parcels of mush resemble fresh Brussels sprouts about as much as Amtrak resembles the TGV.

Brussels sprouts are having a bit of a renaissance.  It seems like every restaurant that is courting high-waisted hordes of gastrohipsters has a version of charred Brussels on the menu.  Cooks are creating great versions but sometimes the charring can get competitive and extreme.  I ate some sprouts at a Seattle cocktail den that were so torched their texture resembled dried thistle husks and they disintegrated into tiny shards between my teeth.

I’m not here to knock browned Brussels as a concept.  Getting them good and brown carmelizes and sweetens them.  Add some shallots and salty bits of smoked pork and it doesn’t get much better. (Though my mom still might beg to differ.)  But if you feel like blackened Brussels sprouts are getting to be as tired as ironic mustaches, here are a couple of simple recipes from Nigel Slater’s Tender that are worth trying out.  Both recipes highlight different dimensions of Brussels flavor.  The first is centered on the crisp sweetness of uncooked sprouts and the second harnesses the rich, broccoli-like flavor that Brussels exude when baked with cheese and cream.







A salad of sprouts, bacon and pecans

This is basically a slaw made with sprouts instead of cabbage and it is very satisfying.

  • 5 slices bacon
  • 7 ounces Brussels sprouts
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 Tbs shelled pecans
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbs peanut oil
  • 1 Tbs walnut oil
  • 1 small bunch of parsley
  • salt and pepper

Broil the bacon on a rimmed baking sheet until lightly crisp. This is a great way to do bacon as long as you watch it and don’t overcook.  Drain the cooked slices on paper towels and then cut them into strips.







Wash the sprouts and pare away all bad parts.  Send any aphids or slugs packing.  Cut off the stalk ends and remove loose outer leaves.  Then sliver them on the thinnest setting on a mandoline, or slice them thin as possible lengthwise with a very sharp knife.

Toast the pecans to your liking on medium high heat and chop them into small pieces.







Wash the carrot and slice lengthwise as thinly as possible with a mandoline or vegetable peeler.  Finely slice the green onions.  In a bowl, whisk together yogurt, oils, chopped parsley and salt and pepper until combined.  Toss vegetables, nuts and bacon together with dressing, taste and adjust seasoning.

Mashed Brussels with Parmesan and cream

  • 1 1/14 lbs. Brussels sprouts
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Clean the sprouts and remove tough stem ends and loose outer leaves.  Boil sprouts at a good clip for 4 minutes, then drain.  Coarsely chop sprouts in a food processor with a little salt and pepper.  They should still have texture.  You don’t want a puree.  Stir in a pinch of nutmeg, the cream and most of the cheese.  Spoon into a baking dish and sprinkle top with remaining cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden.

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Refrigerator Pickles

Turning cucumbers into refrigerator pickles requires little effort or time. Refrigerator pickles are a great way to use an abundant cucumber crop without the canning process.

All you need for quick, fridge pickles are a non-reactive container with a cover or lid, cucumbers, water, vinegar, sugar, and salt. I prefer to make mine in a half gallon glass jar, but any size jar will do. Reused commercial pickle jars work very well. I prefer white, distilled vinegar. Apple cider vinegar works well, as does rice vinegar.

Here’s the basic recipe: Equal parts vinegar and water and sugar; 1 teaspoon salt. What does this mean? 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup water, and 1 cup sugar mixed together until the sugar dissolves, then add the teaspoon of salt. If you want more liquid, just double the amounts.

Now, for the fun part: you can flavor the pickling liquid anyway you like. Add a few cloves of fresh garlic. Add a sprig of oregano. Add a half teaspoon of mustard seed. Add fresh dill and you’ll get a sweet, dill pickle. Add a teaspoon of crushed red peppers or a jalapeno sliced in half.  If you really like some heat, add a sliced scotch bonnet pepper.

Next, simply slice your cucumbers how you like them, place in the jar, and pour your pickling solution over them. Place in the fridge and wait a couple of days, then eat and enjoy. Fridge pickles will last a few weeks and are great for snacks or a quick dinner side. When you empty your jar, feel free to reuse your pickling liquid two or three times.

If you have an abundance of carrots, small onions, broccoli, cauliflower, or zucchini they can be quick pickled the same way. Just add them to the jar and wait. Carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower take a little longer to pickle, but zucchini slices or chunks take only a day or so. If you use a large zucchini, remove the seeds and pith before slicing. Feel free to mix your jar with any vegetables you have. Pickled kohlrabi taste great!

Another quick pickle favorite at my house is Sliced Cucumber-Carrot Salad.

Sliced Cucumber-Carrot Salad


What I did:

Slice cucumbers and carrots fairly thin and arrange on a plate, sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons rice vinegar and ½ – 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, add a little freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, wait 15 minutes or so, and serve. This makes a pretty potluck dish and is a great salad to serve with spicy dishes.  

Be creative. Let refrigerator pickles reflect your garden and your palate.


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Looking for some way to use the glut of food coming out of the late summer garden (including elephantine summer squash), I came upon this recipe in “Fried & True,” Lee Brian Schrager’s recent paean to America’s deep fried bird. The recipe has four main components: a yogurt/Sriracha marinade for the chicken, a rice flour and cake flour dredge that produces a thick, crunchy fried crust, a honey/vinegar glaze, and fresh vegetables charred in a skillet. The recipe calls for okra, tomatoes and onions, but I used what was available: fresh corn cut from the cob, summer squash, onion and tomato.

You’ll want some time to make this. It’s more suited to a lazy Sunday afternoon in the kitchen than a fraught weeknight at the stove.

For the marinade:
2 cups whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup Sriracha
1 tsp kosher salt
8 boneless, skin-on chicken thighs pounded 1/4 inch thick

Lay the thighs flat on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap or paper towel. Pound with medium force until they are a uniform 1/4 inch thickness. Place thighs in a bowl or Pyrex storage container. Mix yogurt, Sriracha and salt and pour over pounded thighs. Mix with hands to make sure all surfaces of chicken are well-coated in marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 2-6 hours.

For the dredge:
2 cups rice flour
2 cups cake flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Canola or peanut oil for frying (I used about a quart of canola in a 12 inch cast iron skillet. I found that this recipe makes enough dredge for a double batch of chicken, so I saved half for a later date.)

Mix dry ingredients well in a bowl or deep-rimmed baking dish. When chicken is finished marinating, remove and shake off some excess marinade.  The chicken will be pretty gloopy with the yogurt.  That’s good.  You don’t want to scrape it all off. Dredge chicken in the dry ingredients until it is well coated on all surfaces.

For the glaze:
1 cup sherry vinegar (I used good red wine vinegar)
1 cup honey
1 medium jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded and minced

Bring all three to a boil in a medium saucepan, reduce heat and simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon- about 10 minutes. The glaze will thicken substantially as it cools.

Fry the chicken:
Heat oil to 325 degrees (use a candy thermometer).  (I set my burner midway between medium-high and high).  Use tongs to place thighs in oil, careful not to crowd chicken. I fried the thighs in two batches til crisp and browned, about ten minutes, flipping halfway through.   Allow chicken to rest on paper towels for a few minutes while you char the vegetables.

For the vegetables:
1 large summer squash cut into rings or wedges
1 large yellow onion sliced into thick rings
4 medium tomatoes of any sort
Corn cut from 4 cobs
2 Tbs good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a large iron skillet on high without oil, add vegetables and cook until lightly charred, stirring often- 4 to 5 minutes. Toss vegetables in oil, salt and pepper.

We sauteed some collards with chopped onion, oil and a bit of wine vinegar- just to have something green on the side.

Place a mound of charred veggies on a plate, set a fried thigh on top and drizzle with glaze to taste. Chow down. Leftover thighs make fabulous, next-day sandwiches on toasted bread or bun with mayo, preserves, pickles, more Sriracha.

Posted in Neighborhood Farms, Recipes, Veggie Subscriptions (CSA) | Leave a comment