Monday, October 26, 2009


Cabbage patch. And vitamin green patch. And kohlrabi patch. Really beautiful vegetables when you really take a look at them. Rows and rows and they were all growing really well. Two types of kohlrabi exist in North America: White and Purple Vienna. The purple one is a bit sweeter but white is more readily available. Also, kohlrabi are surprisingly high in Vitamin C. So if you need some, or if you bruise easily, eat some kohlrabi.

Luckily the farm grows a lot of Purple Vienna. This is a closeup.

  Here Hector is standing in a field of turnips, radishes, and beets.  (I later ate the Watermelon Radish he is holding and it stung my mouth in a perfect way.) These radishes run the opposite of others: the more mature they are, the less intense their flavor is. Because I ate the radish straight from the ground, the intensity was...well...intense. Sliced into a salad or pickled, the taste is a bit masked and becomes much more pleasant to crunch.

Two pictures of the vegetables growing straight from the ground: The top photo is our watermelon radish and the bottom picture is a trio of purple turnips. If you're in to pickling, purple turnips are delicious candidates. Their intense flavor combines with the acidity of the brine to make a really tart pickle.

Here is a comparison of two cover-crop fields. The top picture is a new field with rye seeds recently planted. The one on the bottom is a more developed field. (You can see the rye is already growing. ) If you're not familiar with the term, cover crop is a sustainable agriculture technique used to improve soil conditions for the growing seasons to come. Because it is the beginning of winter, Hector chose to grow rye as his cover crop. Though I didn't ask why, I'm guessing it is because rye has a deep root system, is easy to grow, and it can help control weeds. Rye's root system stimulates the soil and pulls nutrients to the top, making the field fertile for the next seasons crop.

Kale is one of my favorite vegetables and, at last, I saw a whole forest of it. This kalefield seemed like a growth of mini palm trees; paradise for every ant in town. It is a hardy vegetable and can be grown without a greenhouse all winter long. Fact: Kale tastes sweeter after a frost. Also: Kale is very high in calcium. So if you're lacking, eat some. Please eat some.  We were so excited/consumed with this part of the tour, that I forgot to take many notes. Just know that Kale is a member of the cabbage family and can be eaten raw or cooked. (If you hate bitterness, cook it.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009


This past weekend I got a chance to visit my friend Hector Tejada's farm in New Paltz, New York. Hector has 11 acres on which he grows vegetables like squash, kale, radish, turnips,  kohlrabi, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, sunflower greens, and more and more and more. He sells his crop at the Ft. Greene Greenmarket every Saturday, if you'd like to see/eat first hand.  I'm not sure I captured everything but I'm going to try and paint as bright and vivid of a picture as I can. It was so wonderful there. And here's why: 

These hens (and one brute of a rooster) were roaming around the farm in such a hilariously chicken way. They pecked around constantly and everywhere with a To-Do List on their minds.  But when I watched them a bit longer, I noticed that they just pecked around in hurried circles, committed to getting in the way of our feet and our steps and our legs...Chickens with their heads cut on go nowhere at all.
Note the blackish chicken that is sitting in a hole in the ground. Chickens create these little potholes to sit in, to keep cool in hot weather. If you want to hear the heck out of the rooster go here.

These white chickens are Araucana hens: the hens that lay small blue eggs. You can tell an Araucana apart from other hens because of the tufts on either side of their faces.

Look at those eggs! It was a bit weird to pick them up and feel that they were still warm. Hector says the hens lay about 70 eggs a week.

These sunflower greens were growing in a greenhouse. The top picture is a crop of greens that is just about to bud. The picture on the bottom is a crop that is one week older than the first. (Growing fast!) These pictures were taken on a Monday and the group on the bottom will be ready to sell by Saturday's market. 

 These squash were curing in a different greenhouse. Squash must be cured for a week or longer in order to harden the skin and to develop a sweet taste.
So much more to show you but I will compile it for my next post. 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gluten Free Granola

I should start this by saying that I never cared much for granola. I don't crave cold for breakfast. But about a year ago, when I realized what gluten was doing to me and cut it out of my diet, I began to dream of food I never ate before. For example, granola. And maybe I didn't crave granola exactly, but I did miss munching. And a crunch.   

                 This granola is amazingly, deliciously, delicious. I discovered the recipe while moseying around the internet looking to soothe my unexplainable granola crave. I've altered it from the original because I think it's a bit lighter this way. If you would like to see the original, find it here.

Gluten Free Granola

3 cups gluten-free oats *
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup rice flour
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tsp allspice
1 Tsp ground ginger
1Tsp ground cardamom
3/4 cup agave nectar (or honey if you like)
1/2 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 Tsp olive oil

Preheat your oven to 250ยบ and lightly grease a baking sheet with oil.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, almonds, seeds, and flour. Add in cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cardamom. Mix again.

In a separate bowl, combine agave nectar, cranberry juice, vanilla and oil. Mix until fully combined. Pour the liquid mixture over the oats. Stir with a heavy spoon so that all oats are fully coated. 

Pour your mixture onto the baking sheet and spread out evenly with a spoon. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and, using a wide spatula, 'rotate the crop.' Basically, till the granola over so that what was on the bottom is now on top. Do this to make sure your granola cooks evenly. Stick the granola back in the oven and continue baking.

Bake the granola for an hour or so, tilling every 15 minutes.  You'll know its ready when it is no longer sticky to the touch. (it should be dry and crunchy)

Store in an airtight container and it should keep for about a week.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Did you ever watch/read Harry Potter? Yes remember those screaming plants that they pull out of the dirt in the Greenhouse? Daikon Radish are absolutely related. Except that they don't scream. If you've never tasted Daikon, just think of your conventional red-skinned radish but with a much harsher spice. Bit of a kick.I came across some mean looking Daikon at the Ft. Greene market and had to document their enormity.  Also, I decided I had to take one home with me.
What I Know:
  • The radish itself is rich in Vitamin C and potassium.
  •  Daikon leaves can also be eaten raw or cooked: good source of beta-carotene,  calcium, and iron.  
  • Eat Daikon if you're having digestion problems and to cleanse/strengthen your liver. 
Daikon is a staple in Korean and Japanese cooking (it is the most widely grown vegetable in Japan!) so I decided to seek a recipe from either country. Thus the Sunomono Salad. (Japan!)

1 medium sized daikon radish
1 cucumber (English is best)
5 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tsp sake
1 Tsp salt

1.Peel the cucumber and radish.
2. Slice both into round, thin slices
3. Salt both and let sit for about 10 minutes
4. Wash and strain
5. Mix vinegar, sugar and sake in a cup
6. Pour over radish/cucumber mixture and let sit for about 15 minutes
7. Consume & Enjoy