Notes From The Art Farm

Part journal, part pressure valve, part blog. Sadie reveals her farm trials & lessons!

2007 – week 9 tomatillo


Several of you have asked, “What are those papery green tomatoes and what do I do with them?” Great questions. They are actually not tomatoes at all. Tomatillos (pronounced toma-tee-yos) are a wonderful little South American annual fruit that can be eaten raw for a burst of flavor or roasted for a unmistakable, savory treat. If you can get past the mystery of the Tomatillo (also called ground cherry), you will become instantly addicted!

First thing you do, peel off the papery wrapper. Then rinse off the stickiness in cool water. They have a tangy, lemony flavor so you can dice them into a salad (seeds are small and soft so don’t bother taking them out), or toss them into a stir fry. They are great roasted with bell peppers in a sandwich, or – my favorite – pureed into a sauce for my fish tacos, pasta or scrambled eggs!

4-5 large whole Tomatillo, husked and cleaned
1 large yellow onion, sliced into thin rings
5 Tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt
4 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp sugar 

Preheat oven to 400˚. Place whole Tomatillo, sliced onion, olive oil and salt into an oven proof dish. Cover and roast in the oven for about 25 minutes. The fruit should be very soft and you’ll see a caramel-y sauce in the bottom of the pan. Let it cool uncovered for 10 minutes then pour every last drop – along with the remaining ingredients – into a blender. Puree until smooth. Keeps in the fridge for 2 weeks.

2007 – week 8 cherry tomatoes


When most people think cherry tomatoes, they think of the plump little red ones you get on a salad. Those are definitely a garden MUST-HAVE! But there are actually many varieties of little tomato. They come in all colors and all have a slightly different flavor. I try to include about half “really ripe” and half “about to be ripe” in your shares so you can enjoy them all week long. Here’s a quick identification quick guide for you:

Sweet 100: the standard in red cherry tomatoes
Gold Nugget: yellow/orange color, medium sized
White Currant: no pigment, teenie-tiny, very mild flavor
Green Grape: greenish, large, and soft when ripe.
Yellow Grape: slightly oblong, thin skins
Black Plum: very large, purple & green, very tasty!

Pop them as a snack, toss them into a salad, roast them on the bbq or sautee into some pasta.

2007 – week 7 easy squash pasta


About this time in the season you are probably saying to yourselves, “What else can I do with zucchini??” Well, I have the answer! Tonight for dinner I made one of my favorite mid-week squash recipes. Here’s how it goes:

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp kosher salt
2 medium squashes, sliced
½ yellow onion, chopped
9 oz pre-made fresh pasta
¼ cup crumbled Feta cheese 

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Toss in the squash, onion and salt. Toss to coat and put the lid on for 5 minutes. Take the lid off. After another 3-4 minutes the squash pieces should be caramelized on bottom. Turn over as many as you can and fry with the lid off for a few more minutes – until caramelized on the other side.

While the squash is cooking, boil up some salted water in a large sauce pan and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. As soon as you strain it, toss another 3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil to keep it from sticking. Plate the pasta. When the squash is finished cooking, divide between the plates of pasta. Top with a little crumbled feta and dive in!

 This works with any/all of the different varieties you’ll receive. If you get a squash that is a little on the larger side, scoop out the seeds first. If you don’t like Feta, use Parmesan. Use whatever pasta you have in the pantry, or the “home-made” kind. Toss in a little sage or frozen peas if you have them. It is surprisingly easy to make and super delicious!

2007 – week 6 potatoes


My family is Finnish and English. Potatoes are a year-round staple in our kitchen. We take pride in being able to prepare roughly 35 individual dishes with potatoes, cheese, onions and milk alone. But it only works if you have varietal DIVERSITY.

Red Pontiac: Slightly waxy with red skins. These store very well for many months. Best boiled or baked into a gratin. Also make terrific home fries.
Yellow Finn: The Finns know their potatoes! This is a soft, buttery light yellow spud. GREAT mashed or boiled.
Fingerling: Flavor, flavor, flavor. These small oblong potatoes are about the size of your thumb. Roast them for a real treat.
Peruvian Purple: That’s what I said… PURPLE, inside and out. Great flavor and super fun for kids when mashed or baked.

This batch of taters are considered “New” potatoes; freshly picked and un-cured. You’ll see that the skins are very delicate (you can actually scrub them off – no peeling necessary), and they require less cooking time than you think. These young tubers are very susceptible to greening so store them in the paper sack in a dark, dry cupboard for up to a month.

2007 – week 5 summer


This is a very exciting part of the season for me. This is the time where we transition from the green, leafy, light-flavored spring veggies to the robust, bright colored, diverse summer veggies!

This is the part where summer squash starts leaping from the center of the bush, potatoes bubble up from inside from their soft hills, snap beans appear from nowhere every day, tomatoes start to show their blush and the corn tassels come out to shimmer in the warm summer breeze.

In the coming weeks expect to see LOTS of all those veggies and a variety of sweet & hot peppers, tomatillo by the basketful, succulent summer melons, tart but juicy plums and a few surprises as well – ie. stuff I haven’t planted before and hope will grow!

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2007 – week 4 zucchini


Nothing says summer quite like a fresh bowl of zucchini (aka courgette). This summer you will receive samplings from my favorite five varieties.

Magda Hybrid: Light green, smaller squash with a mild nutty flavor. Great on the grill or stir fried.
Largo: slender, stripy and really nutty. No matter how big they get, they still taste sweet & tender.
Patty Pan: Kids love this squash. Especially when they are little and boiled whole.
Sable Beauty: Pretty much the zucchini you are used to eating – but tastes a great deal better!
Yellow Crookneck: Adds great color in stir fry or zucchini bread. Pair with another for best flavor.

Check the summer section of your AFO cookbook for some jazzy preparation ideas. Its great just boiled up with some pasta or rice, but remember, zucchini’s best friend is SAGE! A couple of sprigs are included in your box… they are the fuzzy gray-green leafs.

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2007 – week 3 the annex


Well… the main garden is running just a little bit behind schedule this season so everything in your box this week was picked from the Art Farm Annex – aka. My mom’s garden.

I planted this lovely English garden for her 10 years ago when I came back from New York. It was the very first Art Farm and is well maintained by Judy. She is an excellent grower in her own right (blue ribbon winning, in fact), but had abandoned it for projects less demanding somewhere in the “teenage years”. We rediscovered gardening together and have been partners in veggie-crime ever since. She taught me the discipline necessary to garden and I taught her how to grow sustainably, a practice previously un-heard of in our family!

This summer her garden is GORGEOUS. Naturally, while she is on vacation I plundered every bit of produce I could! Enjoy the delicate flavor of the raspberries, the nutty flavor of the zucchini and the bitter/sweetness of the salad greens.

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2007 – week 2 beets


My favorite root veggie! These were planted between rainstorms in February. Well… the first batch was planted in February. After the goats ate them, THESE beets were planted between rainstorms in late March. The have been fenced, weeded, watched, un-fenced, pecked at by the chickens and finally have grown to an eatable size. In your box you may find many varieties:

Chioggia – an Italian beet with red & white rings
Golden – yellow beet with a very mild flavor
Pacemaker III – large, red beet with no zoning 

To BOIL: trim the stems, leaving about an inch of greens on the beet. Don’t trim the root and don’t cut/peel. Boil in salted water for 20-25 minutes until fork-tender. Now you can trim the root, top and peel. Chop and serve with butter and wine vinegar.

To ROAST: Preheat oven to 400˚. Scrub well and chop into 1-inch pieces. Toss with some olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. Roast on a cookie sheet for 30-40 minutes, until the edges are dark & crispy and beet pieces are fork-tender. Great for snacks!

2007 – week 1 mojito


This is the official Art Farm summer drink. When I moved here two years ago, the only things growing were thistles and mint. This year they are both still going strong, but at least we can make the best of the situation. Its Mojito time, baby. 

6 fresh mint sprigs
4 tsp sugar
6 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 oz light rum
club soda

In a tall thin glass, crush part of the mint with a fork to coat the inside. Add the sugar and lime juice and stir thoroughly. Top with ice. Add rum and mix. Top off with *chilled* club soda (or seltzer). Add a lime slice and the remaining mint, and serve.

2007 – week 10 tomatoes


In spite of the 1+ inch of rain Amity has had already this week, the tomatoes have been able to survive with a minimum of cracking. I planted WAY too many this year. Every year really, but this year it was worse. 43 plants all together. It would take pages to tell you about all of them, but here is some info about my favorites:

Brandywine*: huge, delicious, comes in pink, yellow & black.
Roma: standard pasta tomato. great for sauces or salads.
Tiger-Like: medium-sized and stripey! green or red.
Stuffers*: comes in yellow and red striped. mostly hollow like a pepper.
Pink Accordion*: deeply veined pink and gorgeous
Hillbilly Potato Leaf: I have no idea what to expect… Pretty though!

*Heirloom Variety (not hybridized in 50+ years)

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