One person’s weed is another person’s treasured ingredient…Merriam-webster.com defines a ‘weed’ as a “plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth”. By that definition, the purslane that Farmer Steven brought to a customer on Market Day was indeed a weed.
His customer was of Indian descent and her mother uses purslane in many of their native dishes. But she was finding it difficult to find in stores. When Steven asked around among his neighbors, he found a farmer who was more than happy to get rid of some of the purslane that he pulled from his garden rows. It was growing independently and taking over his crop area. So Steven brought a box of it to his new friend.
Purslane is a succulent annual plant that grows even in poor soil, The crisp leaves, which have a slightly sour, salty taste and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and a variety of vitamins, can be cooked and served as a side with fish and poultry, stir-fried with other greens, or chopped and served on salads, soups and other dishes. Its yellow flower buds can be a colorful addition to a salad too. In Indian cuisine, it’s often used in soup or curry or rice or ragi mudde cakes.
Porulaca oleracea, its official botanical name, is also known as little hogweed, pigweed, red root and pursley. It looks a bit like a plant called ‘hairy-stemmed spurge’ with its pinkish stem and small rounded leaves like a jade plant, but hair-stemmed spurge is poisonous, so make sure you’ve got fresh, organic purslane before you try it!
Beautiful daylilies are in bloom in the Kansas City area now… did you know you can eat them?!
Farmer Steven brought a lesson in edible flowers along with his fresh produce this week. (Disclaimer: we’re talking about organically-grown daylilies, of course – not ones that have been sprayed with any pesticides, etc.)
There’s so much to enjoy with these perennial flowers. The tender, velvety petals of the blossoms make a nutritious, colorful addition to a salad. The buds offer protein, vitamin C and vitamin A – Steven suggests slicing them on an angle and sautéing them. Dried daylily petals are known in China as ‘golden needles’ and used as an ingredient in many recipes.
But eating daylilies is not without controversy. There are some who contend that daylilies help prevent blindness. Others warn that daylilies can be toxic to eat (or are at least easily confused with tiger lilies, which are not advisable to eat.) Steven recommends that you try just a small bit of the daylilies the first time you eat them. The flowers can have a diuretic effect to some people; “nature’s laxative,” as Steven calls it. And the daylily can be toxic to cats, so keep Kitty out of your daylily flowerbed.
Bottomline, enjoy your daylilies in a whole new way – sauté them, boil them, stirfry or serve them raw. Oh, and they’re just beautiful in a vase on your table too!
Farmer Steve offers advice on reviving your greens when they’re starting to wilt.
Don’t give up on that lettuce, chard or kale just because it is beginning to look a bit limp! They just need a little tender loving care with water and refrigeration, and you’ll be amazed at how they spring back to life.
Cut the ends off the greens like you would for flowers before putting them in a vase. Soak the greens in a bowl of cool water for approx. 10 minutes. Then remove them from the water, place the stem end of the greens in a vase and put in a refrigerator for at least an hour to let the water soak in and perk them back up.
Voila! You have revived your greens! It’s just that simple. Enjoy…
Farmer Steven brought some interesting things with him this week…
Can you name these veggies?
He brought both Turks Turban Squash and Mini Turks Turban Squash. While they’re edible and some people find them delicious, Steven thinks that besides their decorative appeal, their seeds are their best asset. He says they have particularly plump seeds, and they make terrific roasted ‘papitas’ (Spanish for ‘little squash seeds’).
He also brought along Spelt Buns. Spelt is a gluten-free grain, and it’s apparently kind of a ‘hot’ item these days with the recent emphasis on gluten-friendly cooking. Steven will be growing ‘hulless spelt’ this next year, so he’s looking forward to offering many more spelt products in the future.
His bakers have been experimenting with using the spelt in cookies and breads, and he said that they have found a trick to baking with spelt. The grain can give a harsh flavor to baking if it’s not properly cooked exactly right. They have found that adding nutmeg to the recipe helps the spelt cook to perfection.
Coming up next week… the last remaining vegetation that the Midwest has to offer from back in the days we were actually ‘the tropics.’ We’ll see if you recognize this one….
Many of you have seen Farmer Steve out in front of The Culinary Center of Kansas City selling his awesome produce. We are happy to announce that we have partnered with him to offer our new “Farm to Kitchen” CSA Programto our valued Culinary Center of Kansas City customers. (CSA = Community Supported Agriculture).
Here’s how it works. Each Friday throughout the growing season, you pick up a hearty box of Farmer Steve’s local organic produce, which will also contain a recipe from us that relates to some of the produce you will be receiving. (Click here to download a calendar that shows what you can expect in your box each week.) Can you imagine having produce in your kitchen that was hand-picked and delivered straight from the farm to us within the last 24 hours AND a recipe that shows you a great way to use it? Yep, it’s true. Believe it!
You will even find some special treats from us here at The Culinary Center of Kansas City in your boxes each week too! Or maybe even from our neighbors here in Downtown Overland Park. Hey, it takes a village to help you learn to cook with your produce!
The first Farm to Kitchen CSA pick-up date is July 17. Then continue to pick up each Friday through Oct 30.
Your registration includes a market bag that you’ll receive when you pick up your first order.
BONUS! The first 25 people who register will each receive two complimentary tickets to the Rio Theater, one of our neighbors here in Downtown Overland Park. (value: $17. Must be used before Sept. 15, 2015.) (Thank you, Rio Theater!)
Pick up each Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at our “back door” on Foster Street in Downtown Overland Park (under the teal awning). Not to worry though… if you can’t make it then, Farmer Steve will be at our “front door” from 2 to 6 p.m. that same day with his “Friday Fresh Harvest Market”…just like he does each week … and you can pick it up from him there. (All produce not picked up by 6 p.m. will be donated to those in need. Sorry, we can’t hold your produce for a later pick-up time.)
Each registration entitles you to attend a free fall visit and tour of the farm where your produce comes from. More details on that later.
Cost: $39+tax per week; all remaining weeks payable at registration.
Join us for our open-to-the-public Staff Lunch on Tuesday, Jan. 20. We’re calling it our Good and Good for You Lunch.
We recently took a survey of our lunch patrons, and one comment that we got from several people was that they would like to see more vegetarian options available. We listened! And we’re experimenting with a few things this week… 1) You’ll have a choice of entree (vegetarian or carnivore) and 2) You’ll go up to the serving station to get your lunch right from our chefs.
On the menu for Tuesday:
> French Winter Quiche made with whole wheat crust, organically grown eggs (from our own Farmer Steve!) and fresh veggies – with bacon or vegetarian… that’s your choice!