When: Saturday August 4th at 6:15 (farm tour) 7:00 dinner
Where: Elodie Farms 9522 Hampton Road Rougemont, NC 27572
The Event: A four course meal prepared with vegetables sourced from Four Leaf Farm and chickens from Sunset Farms. The goal is to represent Rose’s view of the importance of using whole animals and making every part count. The menu will takes influence from the Japanese approach to chicken cookery. The courses will reflect the different parts of the chicken, the skin, the breast, the thighs, and the bones. The final menu will be released when we have a better idea of what veggies will be available. Please join us for our second dinner of the summer and look for more in the coming months.
For more details please check Rose's Meat Market and Sweet Shop's website. http://ow.ly/cwcGc
We hope to see you there.
by Norm Budnitz
I’ll say it flat out, “I like okra!”
Some people say it’s too slimy. Others simply say, “Yuck!” The methods of cooking okra for long periods of time that result in a mucilaginous goo leave me wanting something different. I don’t mind stewed okra and tomatoes, just like I’m willing to tolerate eating other veggies that are cooked for a long time, if there’s nothing else available. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are quick and easy ways to cook okra that are simply delicious. As it is, I spend enough time with my okra in the field; I want short and sweet and eat in the kitchen. Read on, recipe at the end.
Okra is a tropical plant in the mallow family, related to cotton, cacao, and hibiscus. I’ve seen it growing profusely in roadside ditches in Madagascar. It thrives in our North Carolina clay soils and hot, hot, hot summers, so long as it has sufficient water. By summer’s end, some plants will be 10-12 feet tall with stems as big around as your wrist! Frost, of course, does them in. They are tropical, after all.
Okra flowers are beautiful. They are 3-4 inches across, bright yellow, with deep red or purple centers. The plants typically bloom in the morning, the flowers fading as the day wears on. One flower lasts one day and results in one okra pod. My job is to pick them before the pods get too big. Perhaps one of the reasons for the tradition of cooking okra so long is because when the pods get big, they get tough and fibrous. I don’t like that. So I try to pick our okra no longer than 3-4 inches. The problem is that the plants seem to know that. They seem to wait till I’m not looking and suddenly produce pods that go from about an inch to as long as an ear of corn in almost no time at all. I argue with the plants, but they don’t seem to listen. They just grow taller and make bigger pods as soon as I turn my back.
Though they make those pretty flowers and growing stunningly quickly, the plants have a dark side. It seems that they don’t like people. I learned this the hard way. I had one of those one-trial-learning experiences. On a hot, sunny day, I decided to pick okra bare-handed in a short-sleeved shirt. May I humbly recommend that you DO NOT do this. The pods are often deep inside the plant near the stem, so I dove in with my bare hands, bare arms, and bare face. Okra leaves are covered with tiny hairs (I guess you could call them bristles) that cause many humans to itch, particularly me. The stinging and itching were unbelievable—on my arms, hands, cheeks, forehead, and even my neck. Now, even if it’s 90° and 90% humidity, I wear my long-sleeved ‘picking shirt,’ rubber gloves, and a hat. And I do not stick my head into the okra patch.
In spite of okra’s defensive tactics, I love these plants. When they are young, I have to bend over to harvest them. Oh, my aching back. When they are old and 10 feet tall, I have to reach up and pull the tops down in order the clip the pods. Oh, my aching shoulders. But still, I love them. And here’s why:
Roasted or Grilled Okra
by Bryan Christopher
2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes
4 cloves garlic*
2 tsp salt
crushed red pepper, to taste
1 big can of diced tomatoes or 2 cups Christopher Sauce or 2 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced
12 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 pound roughly-grated ricotta salata**
1 box short, tubular pasta, like penne or rigatoni
*If you're using a premade sauce (that already includes garlic) instead of tomatoes, consider reducing or omitting the garlic
**Ricotta salata is salted sheep's milk ricotta cheese. It's much more firm than regular ricotta. Substituting ricotta produces a smooth, creamy sauce that's different in texture but equally raucous. Another option is to substitute another firm, salty cheese like pecorino romano.
1. Placed the diced eggplant and salt in a strainer with a bowl underneath, then put something heavy on top. Let the eggplant sit for an hour. During this time, the salt will pull the bitter juices from the eggplant pieces into the bowl underneath the strainer.
2. Fill the bottom of a saucepan with 1/4" of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot (test it), add the eggplant.
3. Stir the eggplant frequently as it fries, being careful not to break the pieces. Add more oil if necessary. When the eggplant has turned golden brown, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towel to dry.
**Note: now would be a good time to begin boiling your pasta water
4. Discard the vegetable oil from the pan. Wipe the pan clean and return it to medium heat.
5. Add 2 tbs olive oil to the now empty saucepan. Just before the oil begins to smoke, add the garlic. As the garlic begins to brown, add the crushed red pepper and let simmer for 30 seconds.
6. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the sauce thickens, 5-10 minutes.
7. When the sauce has reached its desired consistency, add the eggplants and fresh basil and let the sauce simmer on low heat for 5 more minutes.
8 Serve the sauce over pasta and garnish with grated cheese and additional basil.
This was originally posted on Bryan Christopher's blog. He was kind to share it with Four Leaf Farm.