Tag Archives: easy

Garden Veggie Indian Dish: A FarmerChef Takes On New Flavors

24 Aug
by Deanne

After a busy week of cooking the final meals for customers at our restaurant, we closed down restaurant operations on Sunday.  When the clock struck 9pm, we were tired but uplifted because of the overwhelming support from the community during the past week.

The following day Steve and I celebrated our freedom in the most American of ways – we took a road trip!  We headed south to Des Moines, Iowa to visit Steve’s sister and her family. After a pleasant afternoon visit with family, we ate at an Indian Restaurant we scoped out earlier that day via online reviews.  We have had very little experience eating Indian cuisine in the past, but we’ve been intrigued by the cuisine due to it’s reliance on vegetables and plant-based proteins, perfect for the budding FarmerChef! Needless to say, our dining experience sparked an even greater flurry of interest towards Indian flavors.

In our research after the fact, we found a website about herbs and a terrific explanation of  the confusion I have personally experienced over the term“curry.”  For example the term actually comes from a southern Indian word, kari, which means sauce. When our world traveler daughter, Francine, returned from a trip to India last year, she tried to explain that curry is a word used to describe a sauce rather than a distinct herb.  

A few days later Steve, expressing his passion for combining flavors and ingredients, came up with this surprisingly simple and tasty dish.  It’s loaded with veggies from our garden and carries an enormous amount of flavor too! It also has protein from three difference sources – chickpeas, peas, and tofu. For those of you who are concerned about the spice, don’t worry, this is a mild curry (sauce).

Garden Veggie Indian Dish

makes 4 servings
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 carrots, coined
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 can chick peas (15.5 ounce)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 package firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 5 scallions

Dice the carrots, onion, green pepper, garlic, ginger, cucumber, and tomatoes and keep in separate piles before starting to cook.

Heat skillet or pan over medium heat, add canola oil and carrots.  Saute until they start to soften.

Add onions and green pepper and sweat until softened.

Add ginger, garlic, tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes start to break down.

Pour the ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. (Add water or soy milk to thin if needed.)

Return mixture to pan and add drained chick peas, peas and curry powder.  Stir to heat.  Adjust for salt depending on your tastes.  (1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp)

Add cucumber and tofu at the last minute and serve the dish over rice of your choice and garnish with cilantro and scallions.

The dish is easy to make and this time of year it is a novel way to use tomatoes and cucumbers which are abundant.   I didn’t even know there were tomatoes in the dish till Steve wrote up the recipe!

What is your experience with Indian cuisine and curries?

Have you ever chosen not to eat a dish because of popular culture?


Solar’s Sunny Watermelon Basil Salad

16 Aug
by Deanne

We purchased some yellow seedless watermelon from Tomschin Produce and couldn’t wait to share its sweet flavor and surprising  color with our customers. It was the first time we’d ever had such a treat! 

As we sampled our first few slices, we pondered…..how did the watermelon get to be both yellow and seedless?  Was it genetically modified or bred in the normal manner of hybrid plant breeding?  Curious? Read this post to find out.

As you can see from the picture, we chose to create a sunny salad for a bittersweet day.  Our hint of sadness comes from the fact that this was our last day of serving FarmerChef recipes to our restaurant customers. Creating FarmerChef Specials has been challenging yet invigorating experience because each Wednesday we make something that is from either our garden, farmer’s market or other local producer.

Photo of Watermelon Basil Salad

We are closing our restaurant on Sunday, and we are excited about lots of new ideas.  One plan is to keep creating and sharing ideas for healthy eating though our blog and our cooking classes.

Solar’s Yellow Watermelon Basil Salad

makes 8 servings
  • 1 small yellow seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 3 tbsp canola or another vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash pepper
  • a few basil leaves, diced

First wash and cut the melon into bite sized cubes.  Place in a serving bowl.  Use a smaller bowl to make a dressing with the rest of the ingredients. Mix together and pour over cubed watermelon before serving.

Have you ever had yellow seedless watermelon? 

What do you think, would this be good with regular watermelon?

FarmerChef Special: Kohlslaw (again!)

15 Aug
by Deanne

Back on July 4th, we made a slaw out of kohlrabi but our in-house photographer, my son, was away so we didn’t have a way capture its appeal visually; so we made it again a few weeks ago and doubled the recipe because it was popular. People enjoyed having it as an alternative to the traditional cabbage coleslaw we usually serve.

One customer even made it at home, which is just what we like to hear.  She told us that her son doesn’t like kohlrabi, but he liked this recipe. 

If you haven’t tried it yet, here it is again (along with a nice photo by Luke).

Photo of KohlslawKohlslaw

  • 4-5 kohlrabi
  • 2 carrots
  • 5-6 scallions
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 canola oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar (brown or white)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

Peel the thick skin off the kohlrabi and cut into pieces. Then grate with either a food processor or by hand. 

Peel and grate the carrots.  Rinse and cut the scallions on the bias. 

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl.  Then pour over the veggies and mix well until all have been coated.

Serve immediately or store in the fridge until ready to serve.  

What kinds of dishes do you like to make with kohlrabi?

Peach Salsa: A Savory FarmerChef Treat

10 Aug
by Deanne

While Francine is finding  wild blackberries  along the road in West Sussex (England), I am picking up peaches from our local store.  Sigh!

It’s a bit less romantic but equally delicious.  Each summer our local store has Elberta Peaches available during this time of year for the many home canning enthusiasts. This year I looked forward to picking up a box and hopefully sometime in the future we’ll be able to harvest our own peaches.

For sure, we plan to have peach pie for our customers this Friday.  But on Wednesday we whipped up something unusual with the peaches. I say unusual because when we think of peaches we tend to think of something sweet, not Photo of Peach Salsasomething savory.   This time rather than create a recipe ourselves,  we used a Peach Salsa recipe from  blogger Amy of She Wears Many Hats.

During our morning trip out to our herb garden, we picked fresh oregano since we were all out of cilantro.  We made the recipe as listed, except we added a little garlic (just because we like garlic) and substituted fresh oregano in place of the cilantro.  Once again, this proves that a FarmerChef is flexible and the whole process can be fun!

Are you a FarmerChef?  What have you been preparing with peaches?

How do you perfect potatoes?

25 Jul
by Deanne

Last week I was buzzing along the highway when I saw this billboard:Link to picture of McDonald's BillboardOnly the billboard didn’t have a question mark. I added my own cynical punctuation;).  Ad people somewhere decided to make a bold statement about our obsession with french fries.  They’re hoping we’ll say, “YES!” And drive right on into the drive-thru lane at the next golden arches we see. 

Even before seeing this sign, I spent many years craving and hunting down McDonald’s french fries. I can remember that when I worked at a Wendy’s in high school, I would go to McDonald’s for the fries.

Something inside me must be changing because now when I see a sign like this I ponder…what is the best way to prepare those potatoes we picked up at the farmers market over the weekend?Photo of new red potatoes

We asked that question this week when deciding what to offer for our Farmerchef special at our restaurant.  We whipped up a simple potato salad. I have to be honest, I felt a bit bummed when people chose fries instead of a freshly made potato salad with just picked green onions from the garden.

Here’s the recipe we created to perfect our new red potatoes.

FarmerChef Potato Salad

makes about 12 servings
  • 10-12 new red potatoes
  • 4 eggs, hard boiled
  • 3/4 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • ½ cup scallions,finely diced
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

Wash new potatoes and boil until soft and a fork can pierce them. Drain and chill. 

Boil eggs until hard and peel.  Mash yolk to add to the dressing ingredients: mayo, relish, mustard, scallions, celery seed, salt, pepper and sugar.

Dice whites and add to the diced chilled potatoes. 

Mix all ingredients together and serve chilled.

Picture of Potato Salad

How do you perfect your potatoes?

Chinese Cucumber Salad

12 Jul
by Francine

It is finally cucumber time!  We’ve been waiting to share this great tasting salad that Luke and I figured out how to make when he visited me in China last summer.

This is a common cold salad that’s available at many restaurants; although each restaurant prepares it a little bit differently…some add roasted peanuts and others sprinkle the salad with sesame seeds.  I really loved having this salad during the hot summer months (which are now a forgotten memory since I had to wear a jacket and scarf whilst picking strawberries. In June.)A photo of a little dinner guest

I love that they recently served this salad as a FarmerChef special.  While reading over this recipe, I felt like I was sitting at a plastic table, enjoying some barbecued meat on a lazy summer evening! 

And it reminded me of this photo.  That little girl kept toddling over to me to give me boiled peanuts as her mother called me aunty. :) (A shout out to Jo…take-er of the photo.)

Chinese Cucumber Salad

makes 4 servings
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce (a good brand is Lee Kum Kee)
  • 1 tbsp canola or another vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 dried bird chili, de-seededphoto of Chinese Cucumber Salad

First wash the cucumbers and cut off the ends. Halve the cucumbers cross-wise. Then cut into half lengthwise and then cut into quarters. Cut the seeds out and slice each quarter into 1 inch pieces.  Place the cucumber pieces in a large bowl. Generously salt and toss them, then refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile combine the soy sauce, canola oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and chili powder in a separate bowl. Mince the garlic and cut the green onions into 1/2 inch pieces. Add the garlic and green onions to the dressing.

Cut the dried red chili into ¼ inch pieces and remove all the seeds. Add to de-seeded chili pieces to the sauce.

Remove cucumbers from the refrigerator and drain off the excess water. Pour the sauce over the cucumbers and stir to coat each cucumber evenly.

One note about the presentation—the oils quickly set so stir the salad once more before serving or throughout the meal.

Another thing you can do is reserve any leftover sauce (once the cucumbers have disappeared) as a marinade for a great stir fry!

Have you ever had cucumbers in a Chinese dish?  In Chinese the word for cucumber is huang gua (黄瓜) which translated literally, means yellow melon….it seems odd at first because cucumbers are green not yellow. But the yellow refers to the yellow flower of the cucumber.  Isn’t that fun!?

Kohlslaw: A Fresh Twist on a Traditional Recipe

6 Jul
by Deanne

We usually make coleslaw at our restaurant with cabbage.  However last Saturday the farmers’ market, the one that we hold in our restaurant’s parking lot, had kohlrabi.  It is something I’d never heard about before living in Minnesota. I thought it looked really strange, kind of like a little alien with lots of arms.  Since it is not an alien, but an abundant crop this time of year, I did a little research and found this picture and helpful information from Sweetwater Organic Community Farm in Florida.Picture of kohlrabi looking like an alienI heard farmers’ market patrons as well as restaurant customers proclaim that they love kohlrabi.  I’ve asked them how they like to prepare it.  The most common response…just bite into it like an apple.

For our FarmerChef special on July 4th we re-thought the idea of doing a patriotic recipe and kept it simple by making a slaw with kohlrabi added together with scallions and carrots from the garden.

Kohlslawpicture of kohlrabi and carrots

  • 4-5 kohlrabi
  • 2 carrots
  • 5-6 scallions
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 canola oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar (could be brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

Peel the thick skin off the kohlrabi and cut into pieces. Then grate with either a food processor or by hand. 

Peel and grate the carrots.  Rinse and cut the scallions on the bias. 

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl.  Then pour over the veggies and mix well until all have been coated.

Serve immediately or store in the fridge until ready to serve.  

Have you ever eaten kohlrabi? What kinds of dishes do you like to make with kohlrabi?