Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Get to know your veggies--Arugula

Cooler temperatures and shorter days are here, meaning to eat seasonally we need to adapt to what's growing locally.  The new high tunnel has a bumper crop of arugula, just waiting to spice up many salads this fall. 

Arugula has no fat or cholesterol, and it is also a good source of protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin A (5% RDA), Vitamin C (2%), Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium (2%), Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese.

A great recipe for Arugula calls for washed and dried arugula leaves, toss them with a Walnut Vinagarette, crumble goat cheese and walnuts on top, then throw on a few dried cranberries--it's a very tasty salad. 

Arugula--even if you don't like it, the word is fun to say!


Get to know your veggies--Spaghetti Squash

I was introduced to spaghetti squash about 20 years ago.  A friend of mine gave me one, told me how to cook it, shred it out, and gave suggestions on how to serve it.  I looked at that squash for about 6 weeks or maybe even 2 months, and sorry to say, I chickened out and it ended up going to waste. 

I've been growing spaghetti squash on the farm since the first gardening season here, and I love it.  I've introduced many people to this veggie, did everything I could to FORCE them to cook it, and most folks like it, but I think some people expect it to taste just like spaghetti and they are dissappointed---sorry, nothing tastes like freshly cooked pasta :)

I tricked my kids and their father into eating it one night.  I prepared the usual marinara sauce for one of my favorite dishes, spaghetti of course, and didn't tell them the noodles were spaghetti squash.  Everyone asked why the noodles were crunchy and I told them it was a vegetable.  They thought it was cool. 

The biggest drawback I've found with spaghetti squash is that they are so darn big that I almost hate to cut one just for one or two people.  This year I found seeds for small spaghetti squash--that's what the members are getting this year.  They are supposed to be the perfect size for a meal. 

Spaghetti squash is low in calories; a 1 cup serving has just over 40 calories.  It's also got other vitamins and nutrients in it such as 3% of the MDR (minimum daily requirement) of Vitamin A, 9% of Vitamin C, 1% Vitamin E, 2% Vitamin K, 4% Thiamin, 2% Riboflavin, 6% Niacin, 8% Vitamin B6, 3% Folate, and a few other things that don't really have a minimum daily requirement.  So, in addition to being easy to cook and fun to eat, it's good for you, too.

To prepare spaghetti squash, I just wash it off under tap water, poke holes all over it with a really sharp knife; make sure to get through the skin and about 1/2" deep into the squash---they make a real mess when they blow up in the microwave (trust me, I know).  Nuke it on high for 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of it.  You can periodically check it by gently squeezing; when it starts getting soft you can take it out.  Let it cool for a few minutes then cut it open longways.  Scoop out the seeds with a spoon then take a fork and start scraping out the fleshy part.  It will start making strands.  Get all the strands out then you're ready for a recipe.

Spaghetti Squash can be served as the noodles in spaghetti, served with an alfredo sauce, tossed with butter and garlic then sprinkled with parmesan cheese, and I like to make egg rolls with them.  Just substitute cooked spaghetti squash for the cabbage, bean sprouts, or whatever kind of "green" you use in your egg roll recipe--it's really tasty!

Spaghetti Squash is considered a "winter" squash, so it will be a while before any fresh ones are picked on the farm, but I'll be ready, parmesan in hand!


Get to know your veggies--Broccoli

Remember when we were kids how disgusting broccoli was?  The only broccoli I remember being offered was the frozen stuff which I suppose remotely resembled broccoli.  The ONLY thing that made it palatable was the melted Velveeta on top.  I don't even remember anyone growing broccoli when I was a kid, come to think of it.

Broccoli is a member of the brassica family, along with cabbage, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, to name a few.  Broccoli is a little tricky to grow, I must say.  It needs to be timed so it matures in cool weather, meaning spring or fall.  I've had more success with it in the fall (except last year, the broccoli didn't learn how to swim so it drowned a slow, terrible, slimy death (oops, sorry--I keep obsessing about all the rain last year)....back to the present.  The best broccoli I ever grew was in the spring, in a brand new garden bed that only gets about 6 hours of sun a day (the farm is at the foot of a mountain).  The plants were huge and the heads were awesome as well.

Broccoli is prone to those cabbage moth worms, but to take care of them, I spray Bt on the plants every few days and that usually takes care of the problem.  I've tried floating row covers, but somehow those moths always manage to get in there and lay their eggs so not only do I not know the moths are flying about right away, I'm usually greeted by a crowd of worms upon removing the cover from the crop.  Also, I think the row cover tends to make the plants too warm, making them tend to bolt quicker.  This year I've purchased diatomaceous earth which is supposed to kill these cabbage worms by slicing their skin and causing them to deydrate---I can't wait to see that!  (we gardeners get sadistic sometimes, you know.....)

Broccoli is one of the most nutritious veggies we can eat.  Broccoli is high in vitamins C, K, and A, as well as fiber.  It also contains several anti-cancer compounds, and a half-cup provides 52 mg of Vitamin C.  The benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled more than ten minutes, so a slight nuke in the microwave or just eating it raw would be better than cooking it very much.  Studies have also shown that eating A LOT of broccoli slows down agressive prostate cancer (I'm not sure how much A LOT is) and broccoli is good for your heart.

Broccoli is great raw in a salad, or on a crudite plate with cauliflower (one of its cousins), carrots, celery, and kohlrabi----oh yes, and a big bowl of ranch dressing right in the middle for dipping!  It's also great in stir fries or lightly steamed with butter and salt, or cheese sauce. 

Recipes.....ah, recipes.  This broccoli salad is totally EXCEPTIONAL!  It simply won't last in the fridge (with me around, anyway).   It's from my favorite recipe site, Allrecipes.com, and here's the link to Bodacious Broccoli Salad.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!   I used a colby/cheddar mixed cheese because that's what I had in the fridge.  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Bodacious-Broccoli-Salad/Detail.aspx


Get to know your veggies--Carrots

"Why do you never see a rabbit wearing glasses?"  I would say because they would fall off when he jumps, but supposedly the correct answer is because he eats carrots. 

Carrots are one of the crops grown at Wild Things Farm.  Little Finger is a member favorite, probably because they are harvested at a small size and they are really crunchy and sweet.  Carrots are not hard to grow (they weren't crazy about the super wet season we had last year though) and at the farm, carrots are one of the crops already in the ground. 

A quick glance at the nutritional analysis of this veggie shows that carrots are highly nutritious.  This table is on the website www.carrotmuseum.com in UK.  There is a load of other information on carrots on that website that is definitely worth checking out if you're interested in learning more.  I thought this chart was worth sharing:  (all these values are for 1 raw carrot, 7-1/2" long"

                                                    % Recommended daily
Nutrient                 Unit      amt        men       women

Sodium     Mg 25.200 5.0% 5.0%
Total dietary fiber   Gms 2.160 8.6% 8.6%
Vitamin A Re 2025.360 202.5% 253.2%
Vitamin A IU 20252.880                    
Ascorbic acid  Mg 6.696 11.2% 11.2%
Thiamin Mg 0.070 4.7% 6.3%
Riboflavin Mg 0.042 2.5% 3.3%
Niacin Mg 0.668 3.5% 4.5%
Vitamin B6 Mg 0.106 5.3% 6.6%
Vitamin B12 Mcg 0.000 0.0% 0.0%
Folacin Mcg 10.080 5.0% 5.6%
Potassium Mg 232.560 11.6% 11.6%
Calcium Mg 19.440 2.4% 2.4%
Phosphorus Mg 31.680 4.0% 4.0%
Magnesium Mg 10.800 3.1% 3.9%
Iron Mg 0.360 3.6% 2.4%
Zinc    Mg 0.144 1.0% 1.2%
Pantothenic acid Mg 0.142 2.8% 2.8%
Copper Mg 0.034 1.7% 1.7%
Manganese      Mg 0.102 2.9% 2.9%


As you can see, carrots are chocked full of stuff we should be getting into our bodies every day.  They are readily available year round, even for "locavores". 

It's never happened to me before, but if you eat too many carrots you'll turn yellow---honest, check it out.  It's called carotene.  That's also what our bodies turn into Vitamin A which is what helps keep our eyes healthy.  I wish someone would develop a carrot for vision for folks who need longer arms to read......

One of my favorite way to prepare carrots is a carrot salad my mom used to make called Copper Carrots.  I found the recipe on Recipezaar.com and here's the link:  http://www.recipezaar.com/Marinated-Carrots-83798



Get to know your veggies--Potatoes

Yes, I said potatoes.  I bet you're thinking to yourself...potatoes, EVERYBODY knows about potatoes.  Do you?  Do you you really?

I checked out the website www.healthypotato.com and found gobs of useful information and recipes for the "lowly" potato. 

Did you know that potatoes rank really high on the list for several vitamins and nutrients, namely potassium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6? 

This table, found on the aforementioned website, lists foods considered "high" in Potatssium content.  ( A 5.3 ounce potato with skin on)

Food Source Potassium (mg)

Potato (1, 5.3 oz) 620
Banana (1 med) 400
Mushrooms (5 med) 300
Brussels Sprouts (4 lg) 290
Cantaloupe (1/4 med) 280
Orange (1 med) 260
Grapefruit (1/2 med) 220
Spinach (1 ½ c raw) 130

* USDA Standard Reference 18

Geez, I always ate a banana if I was getting leg cramps--think I'll go for a potato  next time!

Back in the early 2000's everyone went on the low-carb diet.  I agree that the diet works, but it soooo can't be healthy for you; all that fat and cholesterol....anyway, people shy away from potatoes because they are "starchy".  Well, here's what "healthy potato" has to say about the starch in 'taters:

 Resistant Starch

Resistant starch is the starch that is ‘resistant’ to enzymatic digestion in the small intestine.  Resistant starch is found in foods such as potatoes,
legumes, bananas (especially under-ripe, slightly green bananas) and some unprocessed whole grains. Natural resistant starch is insoluble, is fermented in the large intestine and is a prebiotic fiber (i.e., it may stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon). Other types of resistant starch may be soluble or insoluble, and may or may not have prebiotic properties .

The physiological effects and potential health benefits of resistant starch have been studied in animals and humans for over 30 years.  Resistant starch appears to exert beneficial effects within the colon, as well as body-wide. Health benefits in the colon include enhanced laxation, extensive fermentation and the production of important short chain fatty acids and increased synthesis of a variety of “good” bacteria.

WOW!  That's a plus!  Have you checked out the stomach/ digestion /laxative aisles at the stores?  They are almost as large and comprehensive as the pain relievers and sinus areas.  If we ate more potatoes maybe we could get some good bugs going in our systems to help digest all the cra......uh, food that we eat each day!

Back to the website......

Potato Nutrition:

More than skin deep

A common misconception is that all of the potato’s nutrients are found in the skin. While the skin does contain approximately half of the total dietary fiber, the majority (> 50 percent) of the nutrients are found within the potato itself. As is true for most vegetables, cooking does impact the bioavailability of certain nutrients, particularly water-soluble vitamins and minerals, and nutrient loss is greatest when cooking involves water (boiling) and/or extended periods of time (baking). To maintain the most nutrition in a cooked potato, steaming and microwaving are best.

 If you need to get dinner on the table in minutes, try baking potatoes in the microwave. The key to great microwave baked potatoes is cutting a thin wedge, lengthwise, approximately 1/2-inch wide and 1 inch deep. This is done so the steam can fully escape from the potato, resulting in a dry and fluffy pulp.  (I didn't know that!)

On the farm there are 3 kinds of potatoes raised; Kennebec, Red Pontiac, and Yukon Gold.  Each of them has their virtues; I like the Red Pontiacs best harvested small and prepared as "new potatoes", whole.  The Kennebecs are good all purpose potatoes, good for mashing, frying, or baking.  The Yukon Gold are creamy and make great mashed potatoes.

Before you cut potatoes out of your diet to lose some weight, why not get moving and burn off some extra calories instead?  I would never recommend to cut down on chocolate.......


Get to know your veggies--Kale

Kale is a number one nutritious green.  I'll have to admit that I'm not much on cooked greens--story time.....Several years ago...well, about 10 years ago, my family and I were eating supper one night.  Supper was the typical Southern supper which consisted of pinto beans, cornbread, and greens.  Believe me, I've tried to eat cooked greens for years and I really don't like cooked greens, but...anyway, back to the story.  My two sons (young at the time) and their father and I were eating supper, and I announced to all of them that I was 40+ years old, never liked greens, and I thought I was old enough to not have to eat them anymore!  The kids laughed and kept on eating (I was glad for that). 

Kale is a very nutritious green and I have learned to eat it when sauteed lightly and not canned or cooked for hours!  Kale is high in carotenoids, vitamins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and like most veggies, it's low in calories.  Kale also shares all the cancer-fighting properties of the brassica family.

Kale is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the plant from UV damage.  They protect your eyes in similar ways.  Studies show that a lutein-rich diet will reduce your risk of developing age-related eye disorders, such as macular degeneration and cataracts (my former mother-in-law has macular degeneration and it's not fun at all). 

Like its relatives broccoli and cabbage, kale releases  sulforaphane when sliced or chewed.  This stimulates the liver to make enzymes, and these enzymes break down cancer-causing molecules. 

Kale is also loaded with vitamins, especially vitamin K.  This allows the blood to clot and also keeps your bones strong.  Our bodies can't store vitamin K real well, so we need to eat it more often to make sure it's available.  This helps defend against osteoporosis too.  Sidenote:  My great grandmother "Granny Wilds" had a hump on her back and that used to scare me when I was a little girl.  Now I know that osteoporosis caused it and I don't want to be scary to my great-grand kids, if I'm lucky enough to live that long!

Kale also protects your lungs.  Vitamin A protects those exposed to either first-or secondhand smoke from developing diseases like emphysema.  One cup of cooked kale provides more than 300 percent of your recommended daily needs for A. 

Cooking kale releases healthful carotenoids but can also destroy the anticancer properties.  Avoid this by slicing kale, then letting it rest for five minutes.  Then lightly steam the sliced leaves for exactly five minutes.  This is just the right amount of time to release the caretenoids while preserving the other health properties.

Sautee'd kale is great with chicken, rice, pasta, and beef, and probably pork too.  I just add it when I need something "green" to go with supper and kale is around--sautee' and toss; it has a really good flavor!

The "vegucation" info for this article was gleaned from the February/March issue of Organic Gardening.


Get to know your veggies--Spinach

When I was a kid we had never heard of "fresh, raw spinach"; all we were ever offered was slimy canned stuff that mom had put some sort of meat (fat usually) to give it some kind of flavor.  I can remember choking it down just so I could get up from the table to continue playing barbie dolls or whatever I was doing when I was so "rudely interrupted" to eat supper at the table, with the family.  (imagine that!) 

In my early twenties I was introduced to fresh spinach--it's WONDERFUL!  It's got texture, a rich flavor, easy to grow, easy to prepare and it's one of the most nutritious veggies we can eat.  Here goes..... (USDA guidelines)

 In a 3.5 oz serving, you will get  

23 kcal of energy, .4 g of Sugars, 2.2 g of dietary fiber, .4g of fat, 2.2 g of protein, and the following percentages of the minimum recommended daily allowance of these nutrients:

Vitamin A- 52%
      lutein and zexanthin
Folate (Vit. B9) - 49%
Vitamin C - 47%
Vitamin E - 13%
Vitamin K - 460%
Calcium - 10%
Iron - 22%

(No wonder Popeye didn't need a can opener)

The best way to prepare spinach is to simply wash the leaves and spin them dry in your handy-dandy salad spinner (or pat with paper towels).  Spinach mixes well with most "usual" salad ingredients;  tomatoes,  cucmbers, onions, and.......bacon bits!  Blue cheese crumbles are tasty and honey mustard dressing complements the nutty-like flavor of the leaves.  It's also great on sandwiches instead of lettuce.   Sorry, but if you like it cooked you're on your own :)

Eat More Spinach!


Get to know your veggies-Chocolate!

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought it appropriate to highlight the most popular vegetable for this holiday, and that would be chocolate, of course. 

Chocolate is one of the most versatie veggies in the kitchen; well it's probably the one veggie that's eaten away from the kitchen more than in the kitchen.  It can be consumed "raw" at room temperature, or melted and combined with fruits, nuts, pretzels; just about anything you want is better dipped in chocolate.

Just like with the other vegetables, "they" say that the more colorful it is, the more vitamin and mineral-rich it is.  So it is with chocolate.  The dark chocolate has better health benefits than milk chocolate, but here are some of the virtues of chocolate: 

 Cacao, the source of chocolate, contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay. Of course, this is counteracted by the high sugar content of milk chocolate.

The smell of chocolate may increase theta brain waves, resulting in relaxation.

Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, a mild mood elevator (great post-argument).

The cocoa butter in chocolate contains oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat which may raise good cholesterol.

Drinking a cup of hot chocolate before meals may actually diminish appetite.

Men who eat chocolate live a year longer than those who don't.

The flavanoids in chocolate may help keep blood vessels elastic.

Chocolate increases antioxidant levels in the blood.

Mexican healers use chocolate to treat bronchitis and insect bites.

The carbohydrates in chocolate raise serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in a sense of well-being (woohoo!)

You might be saying to yourself that chocolate isn't a vegetable.  I beg to differ: If you check out the definition of chocolate on Wiki, this is what you'll see:

Chocolate is derived from the seeds of a fleshy pod from the fruit of the cacao tree. The scientific name of the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao, which means "food of the Gods" and it is classified as a vegetable.

By the way, by definition, fruits are vegetables. The fleshy part of the fruit of cacao is also edible. 

Now for the recipe:  Mexican Chocolate Chili

It's in the Allrecipes.com website and here's the link.


Enjoy, and EAT MORE CHOCOLATE!  Don't you think the world would be a happier place if everybody ate chocolate every day? :)


Get to know your veggies-Swiss Chard


Swiss Chard is a wonderful plant to grow in the garden.  Not only does it taste good, it's pretty as well.  At Wild Things there are several different varieties of Swiss Chard in the garden; Lucullus, Bright Lights, and Sea Foam are the three main varieties grown.  Lucullus is a very hardy plant, withstanding summer heat better than the other varieties, but Bright Lights is colorful and happy and "they" say that colorful veggies are the best choices for more nutrients. 

Swiss chard is one of the most nutritious veggies around.  It contains anthocyanins and fiber, which prevent colon and digestive cancers; iron, supporting the body's ability to utilize oxygen; vitamin A to protect your lungs and prevent heart disease; vitamin C to boost your immune function and protect against heart disease; vitamin K to keep bones strong and allow blood to clot. (whew!)

My favorite way to prepare Swiss Chard is to wash it, remove the stems, tear the leaves up, and eat them in a salad.  If you like fresh spinach salads, you'll like Swiss Chard salads.  It's thicker and meatier than spinach, and is great accompanied by the same things that like to go with spinach salads. 

Swiss Chard is also good sauteed lightly and added to recipes.   Swiss Chard may be substituted in a lot of recipes that call for spinach and many of the chefs on Food Network have been using Swiss Chard in their recipes, so I would suggest checking out their website for specific recipes.

The "vegucation" info in this blog was gleaned from Organic Gardening magazine, in the February/March 2009 issue.


Get to know your veggies—Cabbage


I know that things are going to “get wild” around here pretty soon, so I’m getting a head start on “vegucation” about the vegetables grown on the farm.  This article is about cabbage.

The cabbage grown at Wild Things is a mix of mini-cabbages including a purple cabbage, savoy cabbage, and green cabbage.  The heads are about the size of a softball, and are a great size for a meal, without tons of leftovers to deal with.  Cabbage is a cool-weather crop, so it’s planted in the spring and the fall.

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin K, which both benefit the liver.  Cabbage contains indoles, naturally occurring nitrogenous compounds known to lower the risk of a variety of cancers, including lung, colon, breast, and ovarian.  Cabbage also contains manganese, calcium, potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B6, folate, vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and tryptophan.

The potent sulfur-containing compound sinigrin in cabbage helps detoxify carcinogens in the body, but this is also partly responsible for the strong odor when cooking cabbage.  To get the maximum health benefits from cabbage (as well as other vegetables), thinly slice the raw leaves and eat them raw in recipes, or saute or steam them quickly with other veggies and herbs to retain their freshness and flavor.

Cabbage can be stored in the crisper for several weeks.  I like to wrap it in a plastic grocery bag so it can breathe, but still maintain moisture.  If some of the outer leaves get a little wimpy, just peel them off and toss in the compost pile. 

One of my favorite ways to prepare cabbage is to pour 1 or 2 tbs evoo in a pan, heat it on medium heat, add a sliced onion, sliced cabbage and stir it around a little to get the veggies coated with oil and they start to cook a little.  Add a dash of water and put a lid on the pan.  Steam the cabbage until tender, add salt and pepper, dash of hot sauce if you like, and serve. 

The statistics on cabbage were gleaned from The Herb Companion, March 2009.


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