Monday, June 24, 2013

Week Three Photo, and Some U-Pick Ideas, by Angela & Melinda

Week 3 Pickup
If you haven't really "gotten into" the U-Pick phase of Red Hill Farm, you're missing out on a lot of good eating. Several of our flowers are edible and *great* in salads or dips. We also have both sweet basil (the usual Italian sort) and Holy basil, located behind the sweet basil closer to the fenceline of Legion Drive (see photo below). Holy basil, also called sacred basil or tulsi, is excellent in teas and is used in Ayurvedic medicine. Thai basil, a variant of holy basil, is used in Thai cuisine, while Sacred basil also is important in Hindu religion and creation myth (click here).
Italian Sweet basil at left; Sacred or Tulsi basil at right
Another U-Pick with uses you may not have thought of is sage. Angela says "fried sage is so crispy delicious on top of eggs or a salad; on low heat, warm olive or coconut oil. Set the sage leaf into the
Sage by the barn
oil until it turns brown, then remove it & let it cool to a nice crispy garnish."  You also can see some recipes below.

Sage's scientific name is Salvia officinalis, and there are many different varieties. Like other old herbs, sage has or has had many uses,  in cuisine, in medicine, and in religions (click here). Its traditional classification in Britain as one of the four essential herbs, along with parsley, rosemary, and thyme, inspired Simon and Garfunkle's famous song, "Scarborough Fair" (click here to listen). If you're interested in historical recipes, click here for late mediaeval "Charmerchande" (a lamb stew with sage and parsley; note that the source, "Gode Cookery," is listed in "My Links" in the upper left column on this page (see here--a wonderful site).

Nasturtiums in U-Pick--flowers & leaves are edible
Nasturtiums (see photo above) are delicious--both the flowers and the leaves--in salads. As
Calendula (photo source)
nasturtiums are in the watercress family, they have a spicy, peppery taste, quite refreshing. Plus the round leaves and the brightly colored flowers enhance the look of an otherwise green salad. Calendula, too, is a nice addition to a salad, or use both nasturtium and calendula in the same dish. Calendula (sometimes called pot marigold) has bright yellow or orange flowers (see photo at left). To make calendula tea (see here), pull the petals off the central flower stalk, put several teaspoons in a tea ball, pour boiling water over, and let it steep for ~10 min. Sweeten or not, to taste. Calendula also can be used to make up herbal salves and skin lotions (click here). For six calendula culinary recipes, see

Pasta with Butter, Sage, and Parmesan--by Mark Bittman (see here), 4 servings

  • 1 lb cut pasta, like ziti, or flat noodles
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 30 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cup or more  freshly grated parmesan
Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta till it is tender but not quite done. Meanwhile, put butter in skillet or saucepan large enough to hold the cooked pasta. Turn heat to medium & add sage leaves. Cook till the butter turns nut brown [but not burnt black] and the sage shrivels, then turn heat to low. When the pasta is just about done, scoop out a cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta. Immediately add the pasta to the butter-sage mix & raise heat to medium. Add 3/4 cup of the cooking water & stir; the mix will be loose & a little soupy. Cook about 30 seconds, or till some of the water is absorbed & the pasta is perfectly done. Stir in cheese; the sauce will become creamy. Thin with a little more water if necessary. Season [to taste] with salt & fresh-ground pepper & serve immediately.
Sage & honey skillet cornbread (source)
Sage and Honey Skillet Cornbread--Bon Appetit, Nov. 2007 (source)
  • 1 cup cornmeal, preferably whole grain, medium grind
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh sage, plus 12 whole fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cup whole milk [or vegan substitute]
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat heavy 10-inch diameter ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) in oven 10 min. Whisk first 4 ingredients & 2 tsp chopped sage in a large bowl to blend.  Whisk milk, honey, & egg in medium bowl to blend. Remove skillet from oven (use an oven mitt!); add 1/2 cup butter. Swirl till butter is melted. Pour all except 2 tbsp of butter into egg mixture. Add whole sage leaves to the remaining butter in skillet; toss to coat. Arrange leaves over the bottom of the skillet, spacing apart in a nice pattern. Add egg mixture to cornmeal mixture; stir till just combined (do not overmix; batter will be wet and runny). Pour batter over sage leaves in pan. Bake till browned around edges and tester [thin knife or clean broom straw] inserted in center comes out clean, ~22 min. Cool in skillet 10 min. Invert onto platter. If necessary, rearrange sage leaves atop cornbread.

Nasturtium Soup--can be made vegan (recipe source)
  • 3 leeks, cleaned & sliced thinly
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh nasturtium flowers, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh nasturtium leaves, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. white pepper [or normal pepper if you haven't got white]
  • 1 cup heavy cream [vegans substitute 1/2 soy milk & 1/2 soft tofu blended till smooth to make a cup]

In a heavy soup pot, saute leeks & garlic in 2 tbsp butter [or oil] till they're tender. Do not brown them. Add remaining 2 tbsp butter & a little broth. Stir in the flour & cook gently for ~1 min, stirring constantly. [It should thicken.] Slowly add rest of broth & the water & seasonings. Heat almost to boiling & simmer gently for several minutes to blend flavors. Add nasturtium leaves & flowers & simmer another few minutes. Slowly pour in cream & heat gently. Never boil a cream soup or it will curdle.  Enjoy! 

For a lovely essay on nasturtiums, their varieties, and uses, see "Renee's Garden: Easy Edible Nasturtiums" (click here).

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