Seedy Farmstand! 10am – 12 noon ARTfarm Saturday 

Come try out one of our new heirloom variety watermelons! You can even prepare and eat the seeds! It’s the year of experimentation!

Since the beginning of May, we’ve received over six inches of rain on the South Shore. Yeah, we’re kind of psyched about that.

Farmer Luca has been growing trials of many different kinds of watermelons and other melons this spring at ARTfarm. Today we will have four types for you to try! (Limited quantities, so arrive early if you possibly can.) Frankly, we love them all, but please give us your feedback on what are your favorites so Luca can plan to grow more of the best ones. They taste sweetest when chilled, if you can wait long enough!

The heirloom watermelon varieties we are growing tend to have many prominent seeds (compared to a commercial supermarket type watermelon). While everyone knows that the modern advent of the seedless watermelon has saved humankind countless tedious hours of spitting, our robust and weighty old fashioned seeds can be useful as more than mere projectiles at an outdoor children’s gathering. Of course they can be saved and planted, but they can also be prepared and eaten: The seeds can be juiced; or sprouted, then ground into a sprouted grain flour and used in gluten-free baking; perhaps a more accessible use for the lay watermelon-seed-eater would be to rinse and dry them, then prepare them much like salty roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Here’s a recipe we found online!

Come to the South Shore this morning and hook up your week with organically produced fresh fruits and veggies, herbs and other treats: Sweet salad mix, teen spicy salad mix, bunched arugula, a few bunches of kale and Kan Kong (Asian water spinach) and of sweet potato greens, loads of bell peppers, all three of our hot/seasoning types of peppers, the end of the tomatoes for this season, Italian basil, parsley, recao (culantro), rosemary, lemongrass, garlic chives, a few bunches of onions, radishes, a couple of shaddock (giant grapefruit-like citrus), lots of passionfruit, pumpkin, various types of watermelons – whole and cut, beautiful papayas, fresh ginger root, and loads of amazing zinnia flowers.

Everything we grow is free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. We are not a certified organic farm, but we grow everything as though we were – meeting or exceeding national organic production standards set by the USDA and keeping careful records – because we want to. Healthier for us, healthier for you, healthier for the soil, healthier for the planet. We are health nuts and we want to improve our soil with every crop and we are obsessive about it. Don’t get us started unless you’ve really got some time on your hands! 🙂

We have fresh local goat cheese  from Fiddlewood Farms! Freak out! It’s so good!!!


What Do We Do With All This Zucchini?

Okay, a few customers were asking for ideas on what to make with zucchini and summer squash. Well, the volume of culinary creativity can just about meet the volume produced by our giant Hugel-bed-fueled squash vines. Here are a few of our faves:

Zoodles

Gluten-free products abound in the grocery store, but they can be really expensive compared to their wheat-based inspirations. $6 for a 1lb. box of GF corn and rice pasta? How about an alternative that has all the nutrition of the mighty ZOOK?

Basically, everything but the seedy core of a zucchini or summer squash can be cut into quite narrow pasta-like noodles, lightly baked and then stored in a ziptop bag in the fridge for 5-7 days. You can get a $25 bulky, entertaining kitchen gadget called a spiralizer to make hilarious fifty-foot continuous noodles from a zucchini while spitting out the core, or just use a mandolin or other handheld julienne-inducing type of potato cutter along the length of the squash for zoodles. Check YouTube for lots of videos of happy people, mostly moms, making zoodles.

Zucchini releases a lot of liquid when cooked, so unless you’re going to put them directly into soup broth, it’s a good idea after slicing up your zoodles to place them on a cookie sheet on clean (non-fuzzy) dishcloths or paper towels, salt-an-pepa them and toss a bit, and bake them in a very low oven for about 15 minutes. Then gently squeeze them out in another dry dishtowel to remove more of the liquids.

To cook, just make your favorite spaghetti sauce – and about 5-7 minutes before it’s done, throw the appropriate amount of zoodles in the pan with the sauce to warm up a bit and cook just a little. If you’re not feeling saucy, just sauté them in butter and crushed garlic until tender, 5 minutes or so. Try throwing them on the grill! Who knows what will happen! It’s crazy! Experiment!!

We find these yummy and very filling. Plan about 1 medium sized squash per person. Makes nice re-heated leftovers, too. And if you really get tired of them, bake them into zucchini bread, see below.

Stuffed Zucchini Ideas

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We love seeing what you do with our produce! Here is a stuffed zucchini with a side salad! Thanks Isabel Cerni & family!

So, this isn’t so much a recipe as it is a brainstorm. A brief survey of stuffed veggie recipes shows the basic options of what to put in the cavity of the zucchini or summer squash after scooping out the seeds:

  • Stuffing, as in American Thanksgiving type with breadcrumbs, carrots and celery, and some kind of soup
  • A meatloaf-like mixture for meat lovers
  • A greek version with feta and cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil
  • A pizza-like option with grated parmesean cheese, sauteed veggies, mushrooms, tomatoes and the like, topped with mozzarella and basil.

All of these fillings do well with some sautéed onion, salt and pepper to taste, some fresh herbs (experiment!) and some of the zucchini chopped finely, mixed in. You can add any cooked grains: breadcrumbs, polenta, wild rice, quinoa, amaranth! Go nuts and add some crunchy seeds and nuts! Stir an egg into the mix for more protein!

Some recipes recommend pre-baking or grilling the zuc-canoes before filling, others don’t.

After assembly, bake the zu-boats in a baking pan so you catch any errant juices. Depending on the filling and how big your zukes are, they’ll probably bake for 20-40 minutes. Poke ‘em with a fork to see if the squash is tender. Check a real recipe if you’re wanting more guidance.

This is the kind of recipe you really can’t do wrong (especially if you pre-brown any meats/sausage), so go freestyle! Let your kids load up these little pirate veggie boats! Ahoy!

Zucchini Bread

Oh the GLORY of this semi-guiltless snack! Spread it with butter or cream cheese, nosh it toasted or right out of the fridge… Form it into muffins, loaves, mini cupcakes… Makes a great travel companion and gift. Our new favorite recipe is a gluten-free version cribbed from several cookbooks…

This sweet snack bread can be made with zucchini plus a fibrous fruit to sweeten it. The sweetening fruit could be a banana, a soursop or sugar apple seeded, it could be a stateside apple or pear, whatever is on hand and longing to leave your fridge. (Citrus would probably be too wet, so you would need to adjust the recipe, or go with a mealy-fleshed fruit.)

Ingredients (one loaf for you and one for a friend or the freezer)

2 cups shredded zucchini, (gently wrung out in a dish towel to remove excess moisture)

1 cup shredded or mashed sweet fruit (apple, sugar apple, soursop, banana etc.

3-4 cups almond flour (if you’re a little short, you can substitute another gluten-free flour or some coconut flour)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

6 eggs

Spices to taste: 4 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon nutmeg or slightly less of cloves, 1 teaspoon ground (or fresh) ginger.

Sweetener to taste: half a cup of honey or coconut sugar or whatever sweetener you like. If it’s very liquidy, like maple syrup, adjust the recipe accordingly so you don’t wind up with too runny of a batter. Depending on what fruit you added, you may need less sugar. The sugar adds to the texture. We like using a super brown sugar like the coconut sugar or muscavado because it is less sweet tasting. You could try molasses, too!

Directions

Preheat the oven to medium temp, 350-375 or so. Using a little butter or coconut oil, grease up two loaf pans and then line them with parchment paper. I usually butter the parchment paper if it overlaps so it sticks to the pan really well.

Grate the zucchini onto the center of a dish towel. About two big zucchinis will make 2 cups of shredded zucchini. Gather up the corners of the dishtowel and squeeze out all the juice over the sink or — over a jar and reserve for veggie broth or to feed your dog etc.

Mash or grate your fruit item,  removing inedible core/seeds/peel.

Beat together the eggs, sweetener and (mashed or grated) sweet fruit until well combined and frothy. Add in your grated zucchini and toss again until everything is nicely coated.

Place the dry ingredients (almond flour, spices, baking soda) in a mixing bowl and toss them together until they’re well incorporated without clumps. About a third of the bowl at a time, add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until wet.

Divide the batter into the two loaf pans and even them out a bit with a spoon.

Bake loaves for about 40 minutes until the top looks dry and a toothpick comes out clean. If you do this as muffins they will bake faster. Remove them from the pans after they’ve cooled a bit.

Zucchini Miscellani

There are many, many more uses for squash.

  • Sliced lengthwise they are gorgeous on the grill and take well to a marinade and a smoky flavor. Then you can roll them up and make some kind of fancy canapé or add to a shish kebab, Yum!
  • Anywhere you might have used carrots, broccoli or string beans, use zucchini squash.
  • They make a fantastic gluten free replacement for lasagna noodles in a veggie lasagna. (Slice on a mandolin, and prepare as zoodles above to remove some of the moisture beforehand)
  • They make a very elegant and colorful layered veggie side dish. Use a combination of green zucchini and yellow summer squash, layered with some goat cheese and pinenuts or pumpkin seeds in a glass casserole dish with salt and pepper. A little rosemary or tarragon is great in there, or perhaps a curry flavor? Vegans could probably go with babaghanouj in between…Cover and bake for 20–40 minutes depending on how big of a casserole dish, how thick you sliced him, and how soft you like ’em.
  • Use them as bowling pins, doorstops and throw toys for your dogs if you still have too many zucchini.

Farm ON!! reOPEN today, Saturday Dec. 12, 10AM – 12 noon!

The ARTfarm is back after our ridiculously long “summer break.” (If mangoes are out of season, why not us?) We have some green goodness for you! THANK YOU for waiting…

Early Saturday morning...

Early Saturday morning…

We’ve got beautiful sweet green zucchinis and round yellow summer squashes! Big beautiful bunches of tender, dark green Ethiopian kale plus two other kinds of kale. Dandelion greens. We’ve also got wild gherkins – these are pasture cucumbers, spiny but delicious as a quick (or slower) pickle. Quick pickle recipe below.

Salads are back! Come early and dig into the farmstand coolers: we’ll have sweet salad mix, baby spicy mix, baby arugula, and green oak leaf lettuce heads.

Early birds may spot one or two pints of our yellow super sweet cherry tomatoes, passionfruits, and fresh figs. (Late birds will still get Ethiopian kale and zucchini!)

Freshly early-this-morning-harvested herbs: thyme, Thai basil, Italian basil, holy basil, lemongrass, garlic chives, recao. Some green (red hot) chili peppers.

Say hi to Santa at the Christmas Boat Parade tonight, and tell him we’ve been really really good at the ARTfarm and we want a pony. No, make that lots and lots more rain.

Wild pasture cucumbers: salty, crunchy, earthy. A bit spiny to the touch - just rub the little points off with a dishcloth when rinsing!

Wild pasture cucumbers: salty, crunchy, earthy. A bit spiny to the touch – just rub the little points off with a dishcloth when rinsing!

Farmer Luca’s Wild & Quick Pickle Recipe*

Eating these weedy little cucumbers is a bit like those early childhood experiments where you’d find something outdoors and decide to “make a snack”. Sometimes when we are working in the pastures and run out of water to drink, these juicy little bite-sized cucurbits are just the thing! Nature’s little oasis. This quick pickle is delicious served as a crunchy little side anywhere you’d want a bit of relish.

3 c. tiny wild pasture cucumbers, cut in half
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon unrefined sugar (muscovado or coconut sugar)
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/8 c. chopped fresh herbs; tarragon, or whatever is handy, to taste

Briefly dry roast the cumin seed in a saucepan. Add the liquids, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer.

Toss the cucumbers, onion and fresh herbs in a bowl and pack loosely into canning jars.

Pour hot liquid over chopped cucumber mixture to cover. Allow it to sit until just warm, then cover. Eat as soon as cool and/or refrigerate.

Will settle in flavor and taste even better the next day.

*This is a rough, down and dirty farmer recipe, the percentage of all ingredients can be increased or decreased to taste

ARTfarm Saturday Stand – De-stress!

A close up photo shows a flower spike on a clump of green tulsi leaves, or holy basil.

Bees love the nectar from the purple flower spikes that grow from holy basil. The plant is purported to have anti-stress medicinal qualities, and makes a refreshing ‘bush’ or herbal tea. We grow holy basil organically at ARTfarm and cut it fresh for the farmstand.

Happy ARTfarm Saturday! This morning starting at 10am we’ll have: sweet salad mix, spicy salad mix, arugula greens, mAcro greens, beets, radishes, tender young cucumbers, dandelion greens, escarole, red mustard greens, garlic chives, sage, thyme, fresh cut zinnias; Italian, Thai, lemon and holy basil, lemongrass, and local honey from Wanda and Patricia. Come out to St. Croix’s South shore this morning and enjoy the cool breeze!

Refreshing, de-stressing drink recipe:

Steep a bunch of fresh cut holy (tulsi, pictured above) basil with a bunch of lemongrass in a couple of gallons of freshly boiled water. Pull out the herbs after 10 minutes and add some local honey to taste. Enjoy hot or cold! Sip, be refreshed, be de-stressed, enjoy a local beverage! Costs pennies per serving!

MAKE SALSA. ARTfarmStand Open 3-5:30, everyT’ing you need!!

Hope you are enjoying this bounteous time of year as we are. Beautiful little night rain showers are keeping our arid section of the island green and verdant! Come out and see us today for microgreens, sweet mix, spicy mix, baby spicy mix, broccoli greens, kale, escarole, endive, cabbage heads, beets (get them now before the caterpillars do!), cucumbers galore, green sweet bell peppers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, hot green cayenne peppers, purple long beans, scallions, onions, italian basil, lemon basil, holy basil, garlic chives, frilly cilantro, flat leaf cilantro and flat leaf parsley.

MAKE SALSA.

Luca’s recipe, according to taste:

A bunch of frilly cilantro
Lots of salt
One nice firm green tomato
A bunch of ripe slicer tomatoes
Garlic chives
Sweet peppers
Onion and or scallions
Vinegar or sour orange or lime
Optional green chile peppers

Chop it all up fine and enjoy it on your chips, beans&rice, in a sandwich with cilantro pesto, or just by the spoonful.

Plantains – They’re not Bananas!

You see them at the farmstand. They are what bananas might look like if they were genetically spliced with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Maybe they frighten you. Maybe you simply don’t know how to eat them. Let us help you.

Two fat bunches of yellow plantains await sale at the ARTfarm farmstand.

Plantains are a sweet vegetable in the banana family, delicious baked or fried, green or yellow. The yellower and riper they are, the sweeter they become. Like bananas, they come in many varieties, shapes and sizes.

Plantains are amazingly tasty cousins of bananas. They are starchier than bananas, so generally are much more palatable when cooked. Plantains can be eaten when the peel is green or yellow. The riper they become, the sweeter they are.

Sweeeeeet Yellow Fried Plantains

For sweet yellow plantains like the ones in this photo, we like them fried. Peel off their thick skin, slice them lengthwise into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick pieces and fry them in a hot buttered pan, turning occasionally until they are nicely browned on both sides. These are insanely good as a snack or dessert. They hold together better than fried bananas. We challenge you not to eat them all at once.

Potatoey Green Plantains

For green plantains, you can bake, boil or roast them like potatoes. They are a very nutritious starch with plenty of fiber. They’ll be trickier to peel, so try cutting both ends off, making a slit lengthwise along the peel, and keep your hands wet as some kinds of green plantains can stain your fingers!

Tostones

You can also use plantains to make tostones, which are essentially plantain “chips.” To make tostones, you peel and slice the plantains into rounds, about 3/4″ thick, season them a bit, fry them in oil until just golden, drain and allow them to cool. Then smash them flat, and fry them again briefly to achieve crispiness.

Search the web for more detailed recipes on making plantains part of your healthy, local, Caribbean diet. Experiment, and tell us about the results on your next visit to the farmstand! Who needs potatoes?

Eggfruit – How to Enjoy It

Four golden yellow egg fruits resting on the worn surface of a blue wooden farm cart. Eggfruit are heart shaped, ranging in size from apple to grapefruit. These are grapefruit sized.

Four whole eggfruits, golden yellow like heart-shaped school buses, ready to be made into smoothies, pies, salad garnishes and more! Eggfruit range in size from apple to grapefruit. These are grapefruit sized.

Eggfruit is a versatile Caribbean fruit that can be eaten raw or cooked, sweet or savory in many recipes. It grows on an attractive mid-sized tree in the Sapote family, with dark green foliage. Eggfruit is known by many other names, including canistel and yellow sapote, and the latin name of the tree is Pouteria campechiana (Morton, J. 1987. Canistel. p. 402–405. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.).

The thin, delicate skin of the fruit contains latex sap, so generally the peel is discarded. The flesh of the eggfruit is high in niacin, carotene (provitamin A), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), calcium and phosphorous. Three to four large, smooth, dark seeds are enclosed in the flesh of the eggfruit.

The texture and color of the eggfruit’s flesh is oddly similar to the yolk of a hard boiled egg. It is dry, not juicy, despite the 60% water content of the eggfruit. The flavor is rich as, but much sweeter than, an egg yolk. The taste is not dissimilar to a baked sweet potato, but more delicate.

Eggfruit can be eaten out of hand, baked, puréed, crumbled over a salad, added to dressings, enjoyed sweetened, or salted with vinegar.

Eggfruit is wonderful in smoothies. It makes a yellow egg-custard flavored milkshake when blended with ice, milk, a dash of vanilla or nutmeg, and a small amount of sweetener. Mrs. Powell at the La Reine Farmer’s Market on St. Croix makes a wonderful eggfruit drink.

I use eggfruit as a substitute for canned pumpkin in pies, adding a bit of liquid if needed to approximate the texture of puréed pumpkin. The mashed eggfruit flesh thickens and enriches mixtures, so use your imagination! A squeeze of lime juice also heightens the flavor. See my recipe for eggfruit pie below.

Eggfruit is fragile once it is ripe, so it’s not a fruit you’ll readily find in places outside of the Caribbean and southern Florida. Keep it in the fridge after it ripens, and enjoy this rare treat!

Eggfruit Pie

1 1/2 cups mashed eggfruit pulp
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup local honey (or to taste – or use maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of vanilla
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 beaten eggs
2 cups evaporated milk, coconut milk, or light cream
Chopped nuts or shredded coconut for topping – optional
Pie crust of your choosing – you can use small tart crusts too!

Reserving toppings, mix all ingredients in a blender.
Pour into a pre-baked crust(s).
Sprinkle nuts, or shredded coconut, or both, on top if desired.
Any leftover filling can be poured into a buttered oven-safe casserole or dish and will make a yummy little custard.

Bake in a medium oven, for 1 hour or until the edges have set, at 250º F.

We made this with molasses once – it was a bit too heavy for most of the family’s liking, but with adjustment that might be a good alternative sweetener for this recipe too!

For more recipes, check out eggfruit.com! If all this seems overwhelming, make reservations: Chef Dave Kendrick of Kendrick’s Restaurant in Christiansted stopped by the farm today to pick up some greens and took a couple of eggfruit with him. He’s planning a special dish with eggfruit in it, so stop by and see what he’s come up with! For reservations at Kendrick’s call (340)773-9199.

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