Farm Market Recipe of the Week: Pickled Okra

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One of the trends we see in farming is that when something is in season, we get more than we need. The rest of the year it is imported from somewhere else. How do you handle this when trying to eat locally, and support local organic farmers? The answer lies in how people used to do it before global trading was a reality – by pickling, curing, or drying.
This week I am presenting a recipe for pickled okra. My hope is to introduce a new way to prepare it and encourage ways to use local produce year round.
Pickled Okra:

2 pounds fresh okra
2TB sliced hot peppers
4 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh dill
4 black peppercorns
3 cups water
1 cup vinegar
3 TB salt
1 TB cane sugar

Boil canning jars and lids. Divide okra, peppers, garlic, and dill evenly between mason jars. Boil water, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar. Pour over ingredients until covered and ½ inch from the top. Seal jars and put in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Recipe by Chef Josh Falzone

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Monarch Migration: Tagging and Mapping

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by Jim Hanson, Manager, Digital Media & GIS

Cool summer nights remind us that fall is soon approaching. For many birds and insects, this means preparing for migration to overwintering sites in southern, warmer climates. Monarch butterflies are part of this group, and at Duke Farms they are just emerging from their pupae. This new group of butterflies are created differently from the ones that laid them during the summer as they are built for strenuous flight. Changes in daylight and temperature during this time of year trigger them to head south.

Throughout the country, scientists and volunteers use tags to track Monarch movement. Tags are placed on the wings of newly emerged Monarchs before they make their journey. They capture butterflies along their migration path and record the unique identity number on the tag. This method provides scientists empirical evidence of the Monarch’s immense migration and helps develop current maps of their migration corridors.

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None of this research would be possible without the assistance of citizen scientists. Anyone can volunteer to help track the movement of these beautiful butterflies! If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Monarch tagger please visit the MonarchWatch website. Also, join us for our Monarch & Meadow Fest on August 20 @ 10am to 2pm where we will be tagging monarchs that are currently in pupae inside our Orientation Center.

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Farm Market Recipe of the Week: Salsa Verde-Tomatillo Salsa

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Tomatillos, like tomatoes, are technically a fruit in the nightshade family. They are mostly known for being the key ingredient in salsa verde, a Mexican staple. They ripen to a variety of colors: green, yellow and even purple. Their flavor is tart, crisp, and slightly sweet. Although first cultivated in Mexico, they are now commonly seen all over North America. For this recipe, I am featuring tomatillos from Harvest Moon Organic Farm and Molten Melon Hot Sauce from Hot Sauce 4 Good. Try this delicious tomatillo salsa on a summer night with grilled shrimp or sea scallops.

Salsa Verde: Tomatillo Salsa

2 cups chopped tomatillos (remove husks first)
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 TB roasted garlic olive oil
1 tsp Molten Melon Hot Sauce (add more to taste)
Salt + Pepper
2 TB chopped cilantro
1 TB chopped chives

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Using a stick blender, rough puree approximately half of the salsa. Salsa is best refrigerated for at least two hours.

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Farm Market Recipe of the Week: Zucchini Chips

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These last couple weeks have rewarded us with everything from blueberries to peaches, but as summer peaks I wanted to talk about something close to my heart. Farm to Table is an amazing concept, but let’s face it, sometimes the supermarket can have more exciting options. At CSA shares and farmer’s markets, some items seem to be there every time. For example, zucchini and squash can be overlooked because they have such a long growing season. My goal is that this recipe for Zucchini Chips will give you a new way to enjoy them, or inspire you to think creatively about what seasonings to use. Think about them like potato chips…  salt and vinegar, sour cream and onion, chipotle BBQ. With a little experimenting, the possibilities are endless! This week we sourced the zucchini and squash from Dogwood Farms, Herbed Olive Oil from Patricia and Paul, and Black Hawaiian Sea Salt from Karmic Nature.

Zucchini Chips:

3 zucchini or squash

Olive Oil for brushing

Black Hawaiian Sea Salt

Pink Peppercorns

Ground Cumin

Ground Coriander

Brush a sheet of parchment paper with olive oil. Thinly slice zucchini using mandolin slicer. Lay single layered on paper towel, cover with another towel and lightly press. Transfer to oiled parchment paper, single layered, and lightly brush tops with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and ground cumin and coriander. Cook 235°F for two hours or until crunchy and golden. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

Recipe By Chef Josh Falzone

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Recap: Duke Farms’ July Farm to Fork Tasting

 

Patsy Wang Iverson

Dining on the Farm Barn Meadow (photo Patsy Wang-Iverson)

Last night Duke Farms hosted the first of two Farm to Fork Tasting events to take place this year. Over 150 people joined us to celebrate local farmers, food, and drink. The heat of the day subsided just in time to enjoy outdoor dining on the Farm Barn Meadow.

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Hors d’ouevres and drinks before the main tasting begins

Chef Josh Falzone oversaw the menu for the evening using only ingredients produced by our weekly farmers’ market farmers and vendors. You can find the full menu and list of vendors here.

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Chef Josh Falzone (left) and friends from WoodsEdge Farm (photo Patsy -Wang Iverson)

Look for our next Farm to Fork Tasting in October.

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A special thanks to Josh, William Wilson, Debbie Thomas, and all of our Farm Barn Café staff. We look forward to seeing you in the fall!

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Farm Market Recipe of the Week: Peach Cookies

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A perfectly ripe peach, bursting with every bite, is something I can’t resist. A couple years ago my world came crashing down when I became allergic to stone fruit. I tried to ignore the symptoms and eat them anyway, but my allergy only got more severe. Two years ago in a moment of weakness, I ate a roasted peach. It was then I realized if they were cooked or canned I could eat them with no symptoms. This last farmers market I was talking to different vendors and made my way over to Jams by Kim. As I walked up, Kim smiled and told me she had a new jam. When I tasted it, I think my smile may have been bigger than hers. It was as though I was back at the orchard biting into a fresh peach still warm from the summer sun. How could she have known peaches are my soft spot? And the even bigger question, how did she hide a peach orchard in that jar? It is truly my pleasure to showcase Kim’s Peach Jam in this week’s recipe.

Peach Cookies:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp sour cream
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
Peach Jam, Jams By Kim

Decoration:
6 Tbsp milk, divided
red and yellow food coloring
1/2 cup granulated sugar
fresh mint leaves, for garnish
Pastry brush

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside. Using a paddle mixer, cream butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add sour cream and mix. With your mixer on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Scoop dough out 1 Tbsp. at a time, and roll dough into a ball with buttered hands. Place balls on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven 14-15 minutes until bottoms are lightly golden brown. Cool cookies on wire rack. Spread about 1 tsp. of peach jam on the bottom of one cookie then gently press another cookie over the jam layer to sandwich them together. Repeat this process with remaining cookies.

To decorate cookies, pour 3 Tbsp. of milk into two small bowls. Tint one bowl of milk with red food coloring until it reaches a vibrant pink, then tint the other bowl of milk with yellow food coloring until it reaches a vibrant yellow. Dip a pastry brush into the yellow tinted milk then paint lightly across both cookies leaving some areas unpainted. Then dip your brush into the red-tinted milk and paint lightly across unpainted areas. Immediately after painting cookie, dip and coat entire cookie with sugar. Insert one or two fresh mint leaves into the side of each cookie if desired. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe by Chef Josh Falzone

NEXT WEEK Duke Farms & Josh Falzone will host our first of two Farm to Fork Tasting events. For more information, click HERE. To register, click HERE.

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Bridging the Tech/Natural World Divide with Geocaching

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by Jim Hanson, Manager, Digital Media & GIS

Technology is fixed in our daily lives. It makes our lives easier and connects us to places across the globe. But there is a downside, over the past few decades people are spending an enormous amount of time in the virtual world and less time out in nature.

Growing up, I spent hours in the woods behind my house damning streams and looking under rocks. If it was light out, I was playing outside. Things are very different these days. An article on CNN.com last November reported that “on any given day, teens in the United States spend about nine hours using media for their enjoyment” (they defined media as “watching TV, videos and movies, playing video games, reading, listening to music and checking social media”). Nine hours! That is an alarming statistic.

So how do we get kids to spend more time outdoors? Make them stop using their phones and watching TV cold turkey? Good luck with that! One possible answer – Geocaching. It is the perfect outdoor activity for a young, techy generation. It combines technology with the thrill of an outdoor treasure hunt.

The treasure is a small container called a cache filled with tradeables (small trinkets that cachers trade when they find caches). The easier ones to find are simple Tupperware containers hidden under logs or rocks. The more difficult ones to find are shaped like natural items such as pinecones, rocks, and logs. The GPS coordinates for each cache is recorded when they are hidden, and then published on Geocaching.com. Once the coordinates are published, the treasure hunt is on!

The hunt involves using a GPS enabled device, such as a smart phone or GPS unit, to find a cache. There are several free geocaching apps for both IOS and Android devices, but if you want to go old school you can load the GPS coordinates into a handheld GPS unit and navigate to the caches that way. The latter method is more advanced and requires more prep work before heading off on the hunt. These apps allow cachers to search for nearby caches based on their current location. You would be amazed at how many caches are located around you at this very moment!

Kids are so used to fulfilling their sense of adventure with video games that they have forgotten how to do so in nature. There is something about the thrill of uncovering treasure while geocaching that brings out the adventurer in all of us. I led a few geocaching classes here at Duke Farms for teenagers and they loved it. Most of these kids wouldn’t think about turning over rocks or putting their hands inside a dark tree cavity, but when they were out geocaching they thought nothing of it. After the first few caches they were pros and started racing each other to find the next. So the next time you are trying to get your child off their devices and outside bring them to Duke Farms to hunt for some geocaches.

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Farm Market Recipe of the Week: Blueberry Lemon Verbena Ice Cream

Blueberry season is underway! If you have a blueberry bush, you probably have more than you know what to do with. Being someone who loves ice cream, making it from scratch is fun for me. The cream pairs well with the fruitiness of the berries from Mike’s Blueberries. The lemon verbena gives a floral note of citrus without adding a sour flavor. Each bite is better than the last as the flavor builds in your mouth. You might want to make a double recipe!

Ingredients:blueberries-690072_960_720

2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup sugar

1 oz. lemon verbena

12 oz. blueberries, rinsed

pinch of salt

5 egg yolks

Instructions:

Stir together the blueberries, a pinch of salt and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until the berries start to give up their liquid. Add sprigs of lemon verbena and let steep for about 45 minutes. Puree in a blender until smooth. Pour the blueberry mixture through a sieve to remove seeds, skins, and stems.  Add back to the pot and stir in the milk over medium-low heat.

Pour the heavy cream into a medium bowl and set a strainer over it. Set aside.

In another medium bowl whisk egg yolks until they’re smooth. Slowly temper the warmed blueberry mixture into the eggs- slowly pour while mixing constantly. Transfer the blueberry custard base back into your pot and heat again over medium-low until it reach 170 F, the mixture will thicken slightly.

Pour batter through the chinois into the cream. Stir to combine, and chill mix in ice bath. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Recipe by Chef Josh Falzone

 

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Farm Market Recipe of The Week: Cucumber Fennel Gazpacho

 

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July is here and locally grown cucumbers and fennel are in season! This recipe for cucumber fennel gazpacho is one of my favorites. It is a very refreshing dish and is usually served as a cold soup. Perfect for the summer! But with a little creativity, it can also be used as a sauce for fish. For a vegetarian entrée, add potatoes, mushrooms, and pickled onions.

3 large cucumbers
1 head fennel
1 Spanish onion
1 head fresh garlic
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 bunch parsley
2 lemons (zest and peel)
2 TB white balsamic vinegar

Peel cucumbers reserving skins. Clean fennel, reserve the fronds and add them to cucumber skins. Blanch skins, fronds and herbs for 15 seconds in boiling water and shock in a bowl of ice water. Strain and puree in blender with some of the ice water until smooth.

Puree cucumbers, fennel, onion, garlic, and lemon juice. Season with white balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.

Separately, these mixtures will last up to 5 days and stay green. When ready so serve, add mixtures together. It usually takes 1-2 days for the acidity to turn the green color brown. Garnish with herbs.

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Duke Farms’ Kestrel Banding Program

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by Charles Barreca, Manager, Ecological Stewardship

The American Kestrel is the United States’ smallest falcon species. It is approximately the size of a pigeon and inhabits open fields and meadows in New Jersey. Kestrels mostly feed on grasshoppers, mice, and small birds, and use natural or woodpecker excavated cavities in dead trees for homes. Adult kestrels will usually lay 3-5 eggs in a nest in mid-to-late April, and incubate them for 30 days until they hatch. Chicks usually leave the nest about 30 days after hatching.

Kestrels have seen their numbers decline in the eastern US due to numerous factors, including habitat destruction via development of grasslands and farm areas, loss of food sources due to insecticide use, clearing of dead trees, and competition from non-native European starlings that occupy nest cavities and nestboxes that kestrels use. The decline has been significant enough for New Jersey to place the American Kestrel on the species of special concern list.

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Since 2006, Duke Farms has worked with the NJ Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor and maintain over a dozen nestboxes on the property. Staff install and maintain these boxes and do weekly checks to determine the number of eggs laid, chicks hatched, and to remove starling nests that may encroach upon a nestbox. Mature chicks, and even adults are banded in late spring by Fish and Wildlife staff to assist in tracking birds and to recover previously banded birds is they are found injured. Duke Farms has had two kestrels that were banded on the property return in following years.

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