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That’s beautiful… but can I eat it? April 30, 2010

Filed under: Fresh From the Farm — Jennifer Kongs @ 2:00 pm

There is such a wide variety of specialty greens available at the farmers’ market that it is sometimes overwhelming when trying to make a decision.  It doesn’t help that most of the greens sit mixed together in baskets without individual labels.  Fear not, the farmer is always willing to answer your questions (he/she is trying to sell the stuff, after all!).  Some of the rarer, yet all the more tasty, greens that are available through Hoyland Farms are shownbelow  – with some quick recipe ideas, of course – so everyone can be more adventurous. 


Too delicate to travel far, pea greens are not a supermarket specialty.  The ones offered through Hoyland Farms are actually a field pea – a cover crop planted to provide nutrients to and protect the soil.  Also called pea shoots, these springtime treats provide plenty of nutrients for our bodies as well, including Vitamins A and C and Folic Acid.  The entire shoot is edible, so preparing the greens is fast and easy; the easiest way to eat pea greens is by chopping them up and tossing them into a salad.   If you want to try cooking the shoots, beware that they will cook down quite a bit – even more than spinach!  Adding the shoots at the last minute of a soup, or sauteeing briefly in olive oil with a bit of garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice are also easy ways to try out this rarer green.  For some more in depth recipe ideas, see http://www.peashoots.com/peashoots-recipes.htm, where you can find out how to make some mouth-watering dishes with the pea greens –  including pea shoot and feta fritters or pea shoot and walnut pesto. 


Despite its unassuming appearance, once you take a bite of sorrel you won’t forget it.  With a flavor akin to orange juice, this green lends itself easily to being chopped and tossed into salads to brighten the flavor.  Place a bunch of chopped sorrel into a food processor with garlic, olive oil, and vinegar for a tasty dressing for all the wonderful lettuces that are currently in season.  Sorrel makes a fabulous replacement for chard or spinach in a quiche or omelette as well.  And, of course, there are many recipes for a traditional French Sorrel Soup, like the one that can be found at this site.


Springtime Chard Magic April 16, 2010

Filed under: Fresh From the Farm — Jennifer Kongs @ 8:43 pm
Tags: , ,

So as you  may have noticed, the beginning of the farmers’ market is really… green.  For some, that may be a challenge – while for others, it’s a reason to jump up and down and cheer.  Fortunately, the tender greens available during spring are exactly what a sluggish, wintry body needs to wake up and get ready for summer.  One of my standard recipes that I use for breakfast several times a week is a great way to incorporate extra greens into your day.  Taught to me by a good friend, following is this week’s highlighted recipe:

Eggs poaching in their chard baskets



1 bunch chard (can substitute spinach, kale, or any cooking green)

4 farm fresh eggs

chives, parsley, green onions (optional garnish)

salt and pepper


1. Wash chard and cut off excess stems.  Chop coarsely. Place in a saute pan with an inch of water (should make a thick layer),  cover and let steam for a few minutes.

2. Once water is boiling and chard is starting to turn bright green, crack the eggs on top of the pile of chard.  Try to keep them separate so each egg poaches individually.  Salt and pepper to taste, recover and leave for 8 – 10 minutes.

3.  Once eggs are done to your liking, turn off heat and serve, garnished with chopped herbs on top. 


Spring Kansas Quiche       adapted from Nancy O’Connor’s Rolling Prairie Cookbook

1 bunch chopped chard (can subsitute other cooking greens)

1/2 bunch chopped green onions

3 whole eggs

1 egg white

1/2 c. milk

1 1/2 c. grated Swiss cheese

1/2 bunch fresh parsley and chives, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Steam chard with green onions until tender.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Preheat oven to 375°.  Beat eggs thoroughly, then add milk, grated cheese, parsley, chives, salt and pepper.  Add in steamed greens and mix together well.  Pour into a medium-sized oiled casserole dish abd bake, covered, until firm – between 30 and 40 minutes.  Serves 4.

Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts  adapted from Farmer John’s Cookbook

1 tbsp oil.

1/2 bunch chopped green onions

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bunch Swish chard, rinsed and coarsely chopped

1/4 c. raisins

1/4 c. toasted pine nutes (walnuts, almonds, pecans, or cashews are also delightful!)

1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onion, cook, sitrring often, for a few minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add teh chard in batches, adding more as each batch wilts with the water still clinging to its leaves from rinsing, covering the pan between additions.  When all the leaves are added and wilted, stir in the raisins, pine nutes, lemon jusice, and season with salt and pepper.  Try as a pizza topping for a sweet treat!



Coming Soon… April 9, 2010

Filed under: Fresh From the Farm — Jennifer Kongs @ 9:36 pm

Check back soon for the new and exciting Fresh From the Farm series, featuring recipes that use what’s available each week at the downtown Saturday Farmers’ Market from Avery’s Produce stand and Hoyland Farms.   The best of delicious, organic and fresh each week (with pretty pictures!), all with the goal to get everyone to EAT MORE KALE!


Recipes From Outside the Box: Homemade Minute Rice September 22, 2009

Filed under: Recipes from Outside the Box — Jennifer Kongs @ 4:30 pm
Tags: , ,

Alright, so you love brown rice, but unfortunately, sometimes your growling tummy just can’t wait that forty-five minutes.  Or you’re going backpacking/camping and just can’t boil water for that long.  Or you have extra rice you just aren’t going to get eaten in the next couple days.  Never fear, I have the solution for you: homemade minute rice!  That’s right, you can buy organic brown rice (short grain is especially good for this purpose) in bulk, cook it in bulk, and then dry it in your oven to have on hand for an “instant” whole grain.  Unenriched, un-chemically processed, un-adulaterated brown rice that rehydrates in boiling water in under fifteen minutes that won’t cost you a fortune… ah, dreams really can come true.


PROCEDURE: Cook the brown rice as you normally would:  Heat 2.5 c. of water for every 1 c. of rice to a boil, add the rice, let simmer covered until the water is fully absorbed (around 40 minutes).  Spread the rice you aren’t eating right away, or that you want to take camping, or that you want for later in the week – whatever the case may be – and spread into a single layer on cookie sheets.  Place in an oven set at as close to 150 degress F as you can get it (200 is OK, but a little on the hot side).  Prop the door open a smidge to allow or air circulation, and let toast for about an hour to an hour and a half.  Check on the rice every thirty minutes or so, stirring to check i the moisture is gone.  The rice will change color slightly, and become hard and crisp.  Store dried, cooled rice in tupperware, plastice bags, or other airtight containers.  When you are ready to eat it, simply cover the amount you want to eat with boiling water, cover and let sit for approximately fifteen minutes.  Voila and Bon Appetit!

A complete homemade "minute meal

A complete homemade "minute" meal


Recipes From a Box: The Price of Minute Rice

Rice in sixty seconds?  You’ve got to be kidding – well, yes, really it takes fifteen minutes, but who’s really counting?  (Besides me apparently…)  But, still, who could complain about being able to whip up a serving or two of whole grain rice in anything less than 40 minutes? (Again, besides me…).  The truth is, rice that cooks so fast has been processed – sometimes the grain of the rice is even cut open, requiring a re-enrichment of the grain to make up for the loss of the fiber and mineral-rich outer “shell”.

Processed foods come with many hidden costs, those to the environment and our health being the most outstanding.  That being said, I would be incredibly remiss to not mention the most obvious, unhidden cost of processed foods: the added monetary costs.  Compared to a bag of plain brown rice, the cost of pre-cooked rice in a box (or in individual plastic bags, yikes!) is significant.  The recipe below is for a box of enriched rice, which is doubly effective at lightening your schedule and your billfold.

Where Your Processed Food Dollars Go

Where Your Processed Food Dollars Go

INGREDIENTS: Enriched Precooked Long Grain Rice [Rice, Niacin, Iron (Ferric Orthophosphate), Thiamin (Thiamin Mononitrate), Folic Acid]


1. Process and De-Healthify Rice. Several brands of quick-cooking rice split the rice in order to make it cook faster, meaning all the “slow” parts of the rice – which are also most of the nutritious parts – are taken out.  Also, white rice is commonly used, which is also a less nutrient and mineral rich option, compared to whole brown rice.  The rice is cooked, then dehydrated, so that in essence when it is cooked again, it is really just a rehydration process.  This process is energy-intensive, and thus, costly.

2. Re-fortify the Rice. Lucky for all of us, the USDA has determined that these processed rice products still must retain a complete set of the required minerals… so they are processed back in.  So far, a simple, whole food, complete with its nutriontional integrity intact, has undergone two compositional modifications.  That’s not economical, or efficient, folks.

3. Box the Rice (with optional added flavoring). Of course, the packaging not only creates serious waste, it also costs more.  When you buy rice in bulk, it doesn’t have to be individually contained.  However, these rie boxes (and even more so when it’s already divided up into individual serving bags) add a significant expense to the final retail price of the product.

4. Convince People Cooking Rice is a hassle. In the United States, everyone knows that time is money.  This saying now applies to the kitchen:  saving yourself twenty minutes costs you a pretty penny.  Unfortunately, as you can see by looking at the divided dollar image above, the farmer is not the person collecting this extra penny: it’s the multi-billion dollar food processing industry.

5. Entertain yourself for 15 minutes while the rice rehydrates. I propose putting some pre-cut, pre-sauced vegetables found in the freezer into the microwave for the last three minutes, so you can have a complete meal.  Too bad the extra cost of the food cut into your wine budget…

EAT OUTSIDE THE BOX: Take the extra twenty minutes to cook brown rice and enjoy the benefits of a complete grain, and make some extra to try homemade minute rice (also great for camping!).


Recipes From Outside the Box: Secret Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins September 15, 2009

FTLogoThe story behind conventional chocolate is truly dark and bitter -a tale riddled with evil players and injustice.  In response to disparate free trade practices, an alternative – fair trade – has taken hold to bring artisan crafts, coffee, bananas, and of course, chocolate, to the United States without devastating the regions that produce them.  While not without its own problems, this form of trading goods improves the environment, the social welfare, and the relationships between producers and consumers around the globe.

The chocolate chocolate chip muffin recipe below uses fair trade chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and sugar.  Instead of hiding abuse and colonialism, these muffins hide a different blood-red secret that’s good for you: beets!  By also replacing much of the sugar from a typical muffin recipe with agave nectar, and most of the oil with pureed apples, these muffins are a sweet treat you can feel good about.


3 medium beets

2 medium apples, cored and chopped

2 eggs

1/2 c. fair trade evaporated cane juice (or fair trade granulated sugar)

1/2 c. agave nectar

1/4 c. (or 4 tbsp.) melted butter

1 tbsp. vanilla

1/4 c. water

1 c. sifted unbleached unenriched all purpose flour

3/4 c. sifted whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 c. fair trade cocoa powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

1/3 c. fair trade chocolate chips


Prepare the fruits and veggies: boil the unpeeled beets whole (cutting off the greens if still attached first) in a saucpan until easily pierced by a fork, about thirty to forty minutes.  Put into a food processor or blender with the chopped apples and puree until smooth.

Prepare the wet mixture:  Beat the 2 eggs with the sugar until frothy (about 3-5 minutes on high).  Mix in the agave nectar, melted butter, vanilla, beet/apple mixture, and water.  Mix just until well combined.

Prepare the dry mixture: Stir the sifted flours, cocoa, salt, and baking soda until well mixed.  Gradually add the flour ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined.  Stir in 1/3 c. chocolate chips.

Fill greased and floured muffin tins 2/3 full with batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, once a toothpick comes out clean.  Recipe makes 18 muffins.

Ooey Gooey (Beety) and Tasty!

Ooey Gooey (Beety) and Tasty!


Recipes From a Box: The Secret in Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins September 14, 2009

Credit: media.photobucket.com

Credit: media.photobucket.com

Chocolate Chocolate Chip :  A pre-fix that sounds magical all on its own,  even without the usual endings – cake, cookies, and my personal favorite, the muffins.  I mean, compared to regular old chocolate chip, it’s like, twice as good – right?  It’s simple mathematics, really – although I’d argue that twice the chocolate could even make them exponentially better, not just a basic doubling.  But really, that’s neither here nor there – the chocolate is good, twice the chocolate is even better – and since it’s mostly produced in other countries by people working for little more than slave wages, it’s not too expensive either.

The truth of the matter is, chocolate may taste delicious, but the industry that turns raw cacoa beans grown oceans away from the United States into the rich, butter chocolate bars we buy – and bake into muffins with chips – is little more than colonialism through trade policies, AKA: neoliberal free trade markets.  Countries with emerging economies that produce raw cocoa have been exploited for their products for centuries, while the colonizing Europeans made money hand over fist selling the finished chocolate products.  Unfortunately, as globalization has increased, these policies have only continued these economic disparities.
The muffin recipe below is loaded with chocolate (and unhealthy fats and calories to boot) brought to us through this unfair trade system:
INGREDIENTS: Sugar, Enriched Bleached Flour (Bleached Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Eggs, Soybean Oil, Water, Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Dextrose, Soy Lecithin [an emulsifier], Vanilla), Food Starch – Modified. Contains 2% or less of the following: Leavening (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Soy Flour, Whey, Salt, Potassium Sorbate as a preservative, Propylene Glycol Monostearate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Xanthan Gum, Calcium Sulfate, Lecithin.
1. Find a cacoa plantation. Cacao (or cocoa) plants are typically grown in large plantations, often displacing swaths of rain forests and smaller, traditional fields.  Soil erosion, nutrient loss, and rapid rates of deforestation are just a few side effects of the large scale cocoa production supported by conventional chocolate consumption.

2. Find labor. While in ‘developed’ countries kids commonly pull chocolate treats out of their lunchboxes, in ‘developing’ countries young children are often slaves in the cocoa fields – not that their parents or adults make much better wages.  Few cocoa farmers still own the land or plants they harvest, the industry is reliant on the industrial – and often foreign – management of large plantations worked by locals for very small wages picking the raw cacao beans.

Credit: treehugger.com

Credit: treehugger.com

3. Take the raw cacao oh so cheaply to process and sell. When transnational corporations purchase the raw cocoa beans, they pay incredibly low prices.  The price we pay for chocolate is hardly seen by the producers; instead, it is the food processors and packagers – often multibillion dollar corporations, including Nestle and Hershey’s – are pulling in the big bucks.

4. Bake into muffins with other gross stuff. While the secret story behind the creation of chocolate is tragic enough, this muffin recipe calls for a little more awful – with ingredients like modified food starch, enriched bleached flour, and a handful of artificial flavors.
EAT OUTSIDE THE BOX: Make your own secret chocolate chocolate chip muffins with half the fat and calories (shh! there are vegetables in them….). Plus, by using chocolate from fair trade cooperatives, you can avoid supporting neoliberal trade policies and your sweet tooth with one tasty treat.