Farmer Joe's Gardens

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Surviving the Harvest cookbook

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Designed for participants in a community-supported agriculture program, Surviving the Harvest: Enjoying the Harvest is a family farmer’s guide to making the most of summertime’s bounty of fresh produce.
  • Ida and Joe DeFrancesco of Farmer Joe’s Gardens in Wallingford, Connecticut, both come from farming families going back many generations. They grew up knowing how to prepare, store, and enjoy the fruits and vegetables they harvested. Every year, Farmer Joe plans the crops early in the winter and waits for the snow to leave before racing out to break the ground in early spring and plant the summer crops. All summer long, he stays busy harvesting the bounty of healthful fruits and vegetables—everything from apples to zucchini. In addition to their farm store, the DeFrancescos share their farm harvest through their own community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, the Farmer Harvest Program, which provides participants with boxes of hand-selected items harvested every week from June through September. Supporting local food diversity, sustainable farming practices, and healthy eating, these programs are a win-win for both farmers and consumers. The only problem is that many people who didn’t happen grow up on a farm simply don’t know what to do with all that farm freshness! Surviving the Harvest: Enjoying the Harvest—the Farmer Joe’s Gardens guide to making the most of summertime’s bounty—is here to help you treat yourself and your family to the wonders of a steady supply of healthy, nutritious, and delicious fruits and vegetables. Designed for harvest-share recipients, this easy-to-use guide will help readers prepare their kitchen, establish sustainable routines, enjoy the harvest’s wonderful flavors and textures, and experience the healthy benefits of eating farm-fresh produce on a regular basis. The book begins with the basics, introducing forty-nine produce items and describing the best ways to store them in order to maintain optimum freshness and nutrition. Also included are many helpful hints such as, “Place whole or chopped basil leaves in ice cube trays and cover with water or broth, then store the frozen cubes in an airtight bag for use in soups, stews, and sauces.” Before the age of modern refrigeration, food preservation methods such as canning, drying, and cold storage were common knowledge. Today, learning to preserve your bounty will help you save wastage and money and extend the life of your summer harvest into the winter months. Surviving the Harvest: Enjoying the Harvest provides basic guidance on canning, freezing, dehydrating, and installing a simple root cellar. In the chapter entitled, “Making the Harvest Work for You (Tips and Tricks),” you will find sage advice about planning, making routines, and embracing creativity. Culled from a community of folks who have committed themselves to enjoying the harvest, these tips will help you become comfortable with the ebb and flow of those weekly influxes of fresh produce instead of stressing out about them. For example, you are advised to clean out your fridge the morning of your pickup, and take the time to properly store each item as soon as you bring home your weekly share. Then comes the fun part of the book: a collection of more than sixty uncomplicated recipes brings out the best in summertime’s bounty. The authors included recipes that are popular with their CSA in Connecticut. Some recipes, such as kohlrabi slaw, will look similar to standards that you may have grown up with. Others, such as cinnamon sugar radish chips and arugula pizza, are bound to surprise. There are two recipe indexes to help you find what you need in a flash. One is by name, while the other is by key ingredient—an extremely helpful feature when you are trying to figure out what to do with an abundance of tomatoes or summer squash. A handy meal-planning worksheet can help you stay organized and confident that you will be putting your harvest share to the best use possible.

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