Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Sweet Potato and Kale Fritters----YUM!

Okay, I'm getting a little creative in my attempts to consume green leafies every day.  Most days I resort to munching on kale while I'm harvesting it--which is probably my favorite way to eat it.  The CSA season is winding down, and  the regular season ended last week, but I'm filling a few vacation makeup boxes this week and next, BUT I can actually relax a little.  Well, almost.

The large high tunnel has been stripped of its summer cover crops of beans and lettuce, kale, chard, arugula and braising mix have been planted and are being coddled along with sprinklers every day.  The small high tunnel is in the midst of seasonal turmoil with a perfectly healthy tomato crop being removed--it's so hard to do that--lots of composted leaves and chicken manure thrown down, and spinach being planted in for the upcoming winter crop.  I'm going to try a little cress this year as well--haven't grown that before.

Back to the regularly scheduled program---Sweet Potato and Kale Fritters.  Feeling a lot hungry and a little creative, I grabbed a half dozen of the skinny, not-saleable sweet potatoes and grated them on the grater


I probably ended up with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of potatoes grated.

Then I took a large handful of washed kale and chopped it sort of finely


I'd say there was about a cup of chopped kale.

Of course anything like this needs onion and garlic and since it was after 8:00 pm, I used minced dried onion and garlic powder.  To stick it all together I grabbed a fresh egg from the happy hens and a heaping spoonful of flour.  Quick mix with a spoon, and


a nice sticky mixture to make fritters with.  I put a glog of olive oil in one of my trusty cast iron pans, heated it for a few minutes, then put in a small handful of mixture.  Let it brown on one side and give them a flip.  I did turn the heat down just a little so they would cook through before browning too much......


All I can say is YUM!  I ate the two smaller ones along with fresh sweet corn, sauteed summer squash and a big yellow Mr. Stripey tomato.  It doesn't get much better than that :-)


Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

At a friend's house on New Year's Day, I tasted a really, really good Sweet Potato Salad that her son-in-law had sent her the recipe.  I kind of overdid the chipotle peppers, but it was still very tasty:

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberry – Chipotle Dressing

2 ½ lbs. local sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2” cubes
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp. olive oil - divided
salt and pepper – to taste
3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce – more for extra heat
5 tbsp. lime juice
4 tbsp. honey
4 tbsp. ketchup
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ c. cilantro
1 c. fresh cranberries
1 c. slivered toasted almonds
1 ½ c. chopped green onion, green and white parts
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes, stirring once, until tender but still firm.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.
2) In a blender or food processor combine, chipotle chilies, lime juice, honey, ketchup, garlic and cilantro.  Process until pureed.  Continue to process while adding remaining olive oil in a slow stream until mixture thickens.  Set aside.
3) In a medium pot, add cranberries, ½ cup of chipotle mixture and ½ cup of water.  Cook over medium heat until cranberries burst.  Use the back of your spoon to crush the cranberries, this will thicken the juices. Allow to cool.
4) In a large bowl combine roasted sweet potatoes, chipotle chili mixture, cranberry mixture, almonds and onions, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Of course I didn't have ALL the ingredients--I had to substitute dried cranberries for the fresh, but instead of cooking them until they popped, I cooked them until they fluffed up--it was still great!



Smart Layering

A week or so ago I was perusing the "Parade" section of our local newspaper and ran across a great article for take-it-with-you lunches that utilize a lot of fresh veggies from the garden AND provide you with a healthy lunch....here's the link:


Stay warm!


Another great raw kale salad

It's been a few days since I've taken time to post any news....rain, rain, rain.  We've already had as much rain as we usually do in an entire year.  That means several crops have drowned, weeds are thriving, and us farmers are busy trying to salvage the season.

One crop that has been a staple in the CSA boxes so far has been kale, and it has been really yummy.  I've tried cooking it several different ways and it's okay, but I personally prefer it raw (if it's young).  Tonight was another late night and I was craving something fresh and green, so I harvested a big handful of kale.  After rinsing it,  pulling out the stems and tearing it into bite sized pieces, I went scrounging in the kitchen.  

In the fridge there was some rice left from a night or so ago, and I had cilantro, tomato, onion, added some garlic scapes that were in the fridge as well, some roasted garlic cloves, a couple spoonfuls of corn relish, a handful of pickled pepper rings, and a can of black beans.   I splashed some extra-extra virgin olive oil (unfiltered) and a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar.  I tossed it all together and YUM!  Yet another tasty way to eat kale RAW!

I got a new camera and it has a setting on it called "food".  This is what "kale kitchen sink" salad looks like on my new camera setting "food"......



I also rescued two kittens from the road today but that will be another post--- :-)


Kale Pesto

Years ago I remember finding a recipe for fresh pesto--using basil.  I made it and served it as a side dish for supper--the kids were small and both they and their father tasted it and said "YUK".  How did I know it was supposed to be spread on bread or served with pasta?

Last week one of the farm members asked if there was kale in the box when she picked her share up.  I told her yes, and then asked if she didn't want it.  (there's lot of greens early in the year)...she said "oh yes, I do want it.  A friend was telling me about a kale pesto that she made".

Kale pesto, hmmmmm.  I can't stand the texture of cooked greens so any way to get them in a palatable condition, raw, is interesting to me.  Plus, all the vitamins and minerals stay intact when a veggie is raw.  I perused the myriad of recipe sites on the net and came up with one that I thought I could work with, as I never have all the ingredients in a recipe "on-the-fly".  Here's the link to the original recipe:


First off I have one of those really small food processors so I had to really cram the leaves in there.  3 cups of kale were added instead of 5, and just about 1/2 cup basil leaves.  A generous handful of walnuts and 5 cloves of garlic were added to the mix.  Once all that started moving around in the processor, I drizzled in some unfiltered olive oil until it was the consistency to spread then added salt to taste.

The pesto was spread on cornbread fritters that accompanied a bowl of small red beans with sweet pepper relish on the side.



Quinoa with Chard and Chickpeas

Sometimes you run across a recipe that is sooooo good you can't stop eating the finished product.....this is one of those recipes.  I'm not a big fan of cooked greens, as a matter of fact I detest the texture of cooked greens.  BUT I know that greens are exceptionally good for us, especially when they aren't cooked to death, and this recipe doesn't completely kill the chard.

This recipe doesn't apply to that "detestment".

In a cookbook that I bought last year, "Wild About Greens" by Nava Atlas, there is a recipe for Swiss Chard with quinoa and chickpeas--sounded like a quick healthy meal to me so I fixed it for supper......the hardest part of the recipe is rinsing the quinoa (must get a smaller sieve).  Here goes!

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 vegetable boullion  cube (I used beef)
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 ounces chard, rinsed and sliced into ribbons (you can use the stems too, sliced thinly)
3-5 scallions, thinly sliced (I used walking onions)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 to 1  tsps seasoning salt (to taste) ike Mrs. Dash (I used Lawry's)

Combine the quinoa with bouillion cube and 2 cups water.  Bring to a simmer and cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender.  Meanwhile, in a skillet put the olive oil and sliced up walking onions and the drained garbanzo beans.  Saute until they start turning golden brown then add the garlic and saute until everything starts turning a nice caramel color.  Add the chard and 1/4 cup water and cover.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes or until chard is tender but still bright green (not that dark yuckky color of canned spinach).  When the chard is done, add the quinoa, seasoning salt cumin and stire together.  Heat for additional 2-3 minutes.

Oh my.




How to successfully boil and peel a farm fresh egg

I'd say everyone that has ever tried to make deviled eggs from farm fresh eggs has experienced the frustration of peeling a fresh egg.  The shell just doesn't come off the egg in a clean manner.

This morning I wanted to make a batch of deviled eggs for snacking,   The last time I boiled eggs I had used the eggs that were cracked during the laying process--(hens are really rough on eggs)--or cracked during handling for whatever reason.  ANYWAY, I boiled the cracked eggs and they actually peeled very easily, so I told myself that the next time I needed to boil eggs I would purposely crack the shells before cooking.

I used a dozen eggs that were gathered yesterday evening.  Each egg was gently cracked against the side of the pot before placing all the eggs in cold water.  Don't rupture the membrane, just crack the shell.  The stove eye was turned on medium high until the water began to boil, then turned down a little so the water would gently boil for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes the hot water was drained off and cold tap water immediately filled the pot to cool the eggs down a bit.

I was simply amazed at how easy the shells came off--not one single egg was mangled during the peeling process.



Delicious Quiche Recipe

The Happy Hens are really laying a lot of eggs now so I thought it was a great time to try a new quiche recipe.  The spinach hadn't recovered from the last harvest sufficiently to include in the recipe, so I went to my favorite recipe site, Allrecipes.com and found this yummy recipe that will be made again.  I took it to my parents' house and my Dad ate it for two meals and Mom wanted the recipe--it's a keeper.

8 oz bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
9" pie crust (popped out of the foil pan and into a glass pie plate)
2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey Jack (I used pepper jack) shredded
3 T all purpose flour
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup diced onion
1-4 oz can diced green chiles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Crumble the bacon bits onto the bottom of the pie crust.  Combine cheese and flour and stir to coat cheese with flour.  In a separate bowl mix eggs, half and half, onion, and chiles.  Add the cheese and stir well.  Pour into crust--it will be full--full-full.  I put the pie plate on a cookie sheet and a little ran over but not much.  Bake 60-70 minutes or until firm.  Mine was done in 45 minutes but my oven runs hot.

Let it stand for 10 minutes.  A slice of this and a salad is quite filling--it's good for breakfast too!

Note:  If your husband/boyfriend/significant other won't eat things they can't pronounce, the other name for this recipe is "Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pie".


Homemade granola

Today's one of those days that one needs a boat to navigate around outdoors.  It's pouring rain but the chickens are out wandering around in the rain--go figure.....

While I'm hold up in the house I decided to replenish my homemade granola supply.  My go-to breakfast every morning is yogurt with fruit and granola on top.  I've made my own a few times in an attempt to reduce the amount of crap I can't pronounce going into my mouth, and it's not hard to make.  The hardest part is finding all the ingredients in Small Town USA.  We do have a couple of health food stores that are proving to be a good source for hard-to-find "healthy" food items.

Every time I make this recipe I tweek it just a little bit, but it always turns out yummy....that is unless I get distracted while baking it and it ummm, gets a little dark :-)

Here's the basic recipe:  (from Allrecipes.com)

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup flax seed meal (I used 1-1/2 cups wheat germ because I didn't have any flax
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp ground cinnamon (I omit this)
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil (I used grapeseed oil--why?  because I didn't have any canola oil)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix all the wet stuff together in a separate bowl, using a fork or a whisk.  Pour the wet onto the dry and toss to coat all the dry ingredients.  Place in a greased 9x13 or 11x7 inch baking pan.  (I used a large jelly roll pan) that is greased well (sprayed with non-stick spray).  Set the timer for 15 minutes and every 15 minutes stir everything around really well.  Mine usually cooks in about 45 minutes but the recipe calls for an hour or until it's golden brown.  Let it cool completely then store in an airtight container.  I keep mine in a big glass gallon jar......yummy!


An Adventure with Spring Roll Wrappers

Yesterday morning I laid out some frozen chicken to prepare for supper.  I didn't know what to fix yet, but there it  was, at 7:00 pm, thawed, on the counter.  This wasn't ordinary grocery-store chicken, but one of the unlucky roosters that were a product of my "I-want-to-incubate-eggs" experiment.  That experiment yielded more roosters than laying hens, so from now on I'll leave the incubating to the professionals and just purchase newly hatched girls.

So far my experience with these roosters is that they are TOUGH and the last couple of times I cooked one it was an all day thing in the crock pot and they turned out to be chicken and dumplings.  Even after cooking it all day long the breast meat just got bigger and bigger the more it was chewed!  So, my mind got out of the chicken-and-dumpling pot and spied the handy-dandy grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  There was some Chinese cabbage from the garden in the crisper, along with carrots harvested several weeks ago.  I'll share the recipe(s) I prepared, but the story is more about the wrappers themselves.

I don't eat out often, but when I do I like to eat things that I don't normally prepare at home.  Vietnamese food isn't something I make very often, but I had a dish once with the rice noodles and spring rolls that was delicious, so that's my inspiration for supper.  I bought a package of spring roll wrappers a while back and have been wanting to use them--here's my chance!

At 7:00 pm I ground the chicken and put it in a skillet with diced onion and some minced garlic (yes, I use the stuff in the jar), soy sauce and pepper.  I cut shreds of the cabbage and put it in the pan long enough to wilt,  then I took out enough of this mixture to make a few spring rolls.  I added chunks of onion, celery, carrot sticks and bigger slices of the Chinese cabbage to the pan of chicken.

I started a pot of water boiling to cook the rice noodles and pulled the spring roll wrappers out of the pantry.  Nice package.....


Once I got it open I couldn't decide what was packaging and what was the actual wrapper.  They were stiff and had embossed marks on them like an inner cover in a can or something.  See what I mean?


Okay, no instructions on the package so I go to the computer.  "Immerse in warm water for up to 30 seconds to soften" and then wrap your ingredients.  I've got the pot of hot water ready for rice noodles, so that seems easy enough.  I carefully dip the stiff wrapper into hot water so I don't burn myself and Voila!  It turns into something similar to wet plastic wrap and is folded up into a wad.  Okay, maybe the water is too hot.  I took a dinner plate and ran warm water from the faucet into a thin layer and laid a wrapper in the water for about 30 seconds and it softened up miraculously so I could roll up the ground chicken mixture and make a spring roll.  I fried them in a little oil and ate the rice noodles with the chunky mixture left in the pan.    At 8:15 I was cleaning up the dishes--see, it doesn't take that long to prepare fresh food INCLUDING grinding your own meat!

Of course this wasn't quite as tasty as the Vietnamese dish I had in a restaurant with my best friend, but I was in my jammies in my house ......that means a lot on a cold wintry night!



Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Fritters

We've spent most of our lives being told to "eat your vegetables" and now that we are, we're being told to "eat your green vegetables".  For years and years I tried to act as though I liked greens (spinach, turnip, chard, kale, mustard) in the cooked stage, but it was all an act.  Having been raised on canned food both at school and at home, greens were just a slimy mass that required vinegar poured on them to make them palatable enough (huh?) to go down.

In my opinion, anything that requires vinegar in order to make it palatable shouldn't be eaten anyway.  Enter fresh greens.......

Although I'm still struggling with the texture of a bowl of cooked, steamed sauteed or otherwise heated up greens, it is definitely getting better.  I actually lightly steamed/cooked some fresh kale in beef broth a couple of months ago and it was DELICIOUS!  I since haven't been able to duplicate the event.

The menu for supper was all lined out the other night, but something green was absent from the list, so I ventured into the garden, picked a small bunch of Swiss Chard, medium sized leaves, and headed back to the kitchen.

Here's the recipe:

9-10 leaves of Swiss Chard, medium size (about 2 cups cut into thin shreds)

2 small sweet potatoes (about 1-1/2 cups grated)

1 egg

1 Tablespoon oil

1 Tablespoon or so of flour 

a couple of teaspoons of honey

salt and pepper to taste

Put the oil in a large nonstick skillet and turn on medium heat.  Mix the grated sweet potato and shredded chard in a bowl and add the egg and flour, honey and salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly.  Drop by big spoonfuls onto the pan (oil should sizzle when mixture is added) and mash out into fritters about 4" in diameter.  Let them cook on one side until browning and crispy then flip over and finish cooking on the other side.  Drain on paper towels and enjoy hot!  Actually, when I cleaned up the pan most of the oil was still in there.

Yet another yummy way to enjoy those all nutritious green veggies!



"Vegetarian" Chile Rellenos

Ok, I finally did it--made "vegetarian" chile rellenos and they were actually quite tasty.   Through the years I've had eggplant fixed two different ways:  eggplant parmesan or breaded and fried.  It's great both ways, but boring.  I subscribe to a blog called My New Roots and this lady comes up with some really interesting ways to prepare veggies.  She uses eggplant as a neutral base for other flavors much as you would rice or pasta.  Because it is sort of bland it soaks up other flavors nicely.

The ingredients in this dish are:

1 eggplant prepared and chopped (see below)

1/2 onion, chopped

2 Anaheim Chiles halved lengthwise and seeded

dash of cumin

4 small flour tortillas

oil for sauteeing

Monterrey Jack (or similar) cheese

Sour cream or cream cheese

splash of milk

The first step in making this dish is to peel and slice the eggplant then salt it really well and set aside for about 20 minutes.  This causes a lot of the moisture to come out of the eggplant then you take paper towels and dry it off.  Pulse the eggplant in a food processor until the consistency of ground meat (see where I'm going now?)

In a pan saute some chopped onion and a little garlic.  I also put the anaheim chiles in this pan to soften up a bit before placing in tortillas.  After the onion is soft, add the eggplant and a dash of cumin, salt and pepper to taste.   I stirred this around for about 8-10 minutes to get more moisture out.  When you're satisfied with this conglomeration, heat up just a tad of oil in a frying pan large enough to accommodate two tortillas and spread out a chile pepper on one of the tortillas.  Add eggplant mixture and top with cheese (I used Cracker Barrel Aged Reserve cheese--YUMMY!) then top with the other tortilla.  Place in pan on medium low heat until that side is browning then flip it over and repeat.

I made a sauce with some of the cheese, a dollop of whipped cream cheese and a splash of milk, then topped it with some freshly made salsa.

Very tasty.

Footnote:  The Cracker Barrel Aged Reserve cheese AND the whipped cream cheese was purchased at a local grocery stored called United Grocery Outlet or UGO.   The cream cheese was 50 cents a cup and the cheddar cheese was $1.29!   If one were purchasing cheese for this dish I'd say Monterey Jack would work and sour cream would work in the sauce--HOWEVER if you've been reading my recipes very much you'll know that I never have everything in the pantry that a recipe calls for so improvising is one of my strong points!


Ground Cherries

Each year several new crops are trialed on the farm and this year one of those crops was ground cherries, aka cape gooseberries or poha.  I'm assuming the poha name is native American in origin.

The CSA members have gotten a small helping in their shares for the last couple of weeks and with the exception of one member, everyone seems to like them.  The true test of this crop's acceptance was at the Farmer's Market on Wednesday.  To say the least, I spent a lot of time explaining what ground cherries tasted like, how they grow, and how to eat/prepare them.  I even handed out samples.

The very first couple to show up at the table bought two containers after tasting the sample.  That made me excited--then the "damp rags" showed up.  You know, those folks who have to analyze everything.  I'd say 95% of the people that tasted them thought they were very tasty and quite unusual--then they'd walk away....huh?  A pint was only $2.00 and I'd sure pay $2.00 for something tasty and different ESPECIALLY if I had been given a sample.   There were about 10 pints to start with and I came home with 3, so it wasn't a complete bust AND they will keep--that's a good thing!

I haven't figured out what's not to love about them:

  • They come in their own little wrapper, just like a Hershey's kiss, so no washing required.
  • They are really sweet and nutritious too.
  • Great on cereal.
  • Makes a great salsa.... http://catertots.net/by-type/vegetable/ground-cherry-salsa
  • They will keep for months on the countertop inside their handy-dandy wrapper

The only thing I would have to say negative about them is that they are a little tedious to harvest as they fall on the ground when they are ready---hmmmmm maybe that's where the name comes from!



Basil pesto with spaetzle, beets and swiss chard

I've been scheming to prepare beets for supper, and there's an awful lot of beautiful basil coming in right now.  A quick look through the pantry and I found a partial container of spaetzle I had bought on a shopping trip with a friend who was reminiscing about how her Czech grandmother used to make spaeztle and green beans.

The beets are going to take longer to cook than the pesto or the spaetzle so I washed about five 1 to 1-1/2 inch beets and trimmed off the tops and the roots.  Put them in a microwave safe dish with a little water in the bottom for 5 minutes at a time until they are soft to touch--mine took about 9 minutes.  Take them out and let them cool a bit.  Meanwhile.....

Wash a small bunch of swiss chard and roughly chop.  Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet, throw in a tad of garlic then the chard.  Stir around until wilted down, add a little water and put a lid on until the chard is tender, about the time you're ready to eat this meal.  While the chard is steaming,

Wash and put a couple of handfuls of basil into a food processor.  Pour in about a tablespoon of olive oil, about 1/4 cup pine nuts, a couple cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste.  Puree till smooth and set this aside.  You've got water boiling for the spaetzle and now it's time to put the spaetzle in the water to cook.  While that's happening, peel the beets, cut them in half, and wash your hands immediately so the red will come off.

When the spaetzle is done, drain it and toss with the pesto.  Put the sliced, warm beets on the plate and cover with feta cheese (a wonderful taste combo).   Plate up the chard and sprinkle with acid of your choice (vinegar, lemon juice, etc.)   The best part of this meal is that the feta cheese tastes wonderful when it migrates over to the basil spaetzle AND when it stays on the beets.

Enjoy a quick and nutritious meal with fresh veggies!


Creamy Garden Vegetable Soup with Tomato Salad

So right about now the fridge is getting overrun with fresh veggies.  It's hard to keep up with them this time of year.  We had much needed rain all day yesterday and other than having to pick squash and dig potatoes in the rain, it was rather enjoyable.

I decided to try out a creamy fresh vegetable soup.  It actually turned out to be very tasty and was relatively easy to prepare.  Here's the recipe (it's a loose one, okay?)

Peel and slice about 3 carrots

Peel and cut 3 or 4 potatoes into 1" chunks

I used about 6" of a Daikon radish, peeled and 1" chunks

1 kohlrabi peeled and cut into about 1/2" chunks

Roma green beans, stem end broken off, sliced lenthwise about 3 times then crosswise to make "French Style" beans

Cover all these with water and simmer slowly until tender.  You might need to drain a little liquid off at this point but save it in case you need to add some back.

Salt and pepper, parsley, and a can of cream of celery soup.  I let this cook a while then added garlic powder, a dash of cayenne pepper and a package of frozen corn from last year.  Then I added a handful of peas I had frozen earlier in the season.  I stirred the pot vigorously to kind of "puree" the potatoes a little to make the soup creamy.

At this point I would have added some cream to thicken the soup a little, (if I had any) but a big dollop of whipped cream cheese was the best I could do.  Stir the cream cheese or cream into the soup and let it thicken a little.


For a side dish I prepared a tomato/rice salad.  There was a bowl of leftover wild rice in the fridge so I took about 1/2 cup of that, chopped one tomato, 1/2 of one of the long Diva cucumbers growing so prolifically right now, a generous sprinkling of fresh basil, some chopped onion, minced garlic, then drizzled with lemon juice and a little unfiltered olive oil, salt and pepper, and tossed well.


The best part of both of these recipes are that they use fresh ingredients that are pouring in from the garden right now, and that's why we garden (or belong to a CSA), right?

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