Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holidays! Holidays! Holidays!

Hello and Welcome!

A big thanks to our new customers from the neighborhood who stopped by Tuesday night to pick up some produce! The holidays are upon us! We're headed to Tennessee to see Patricia's family and some friends there. It will be a needed break for us, though I will be working some. I'll be fine-tuning our farm and CSA plan for the coming year. It's very exciting, thought provoking and a lot of work! Anyhow, we'll be announcing the CSA soon!

During these cold winter months, please be aware the weather may postpone our harvest of your produce. In response to this, we may postpone pickups by a day or two. We will provide primary notice of pickup changes via email (especially for those of you who place orders) as well as via blog and online store. Thank you for being flexible with us!

Next Tuesday, December 22nd, we will have produce pickup at our house, 604 Sasser St., between 4pm to 7:30pm. We will not have produce pickup Tuesday, December 29th. We will return with pickup Tuesday, January 5th.

Purchase of vegetables is made through our online store

Community Supported Agriculture:
Information coming soon!

Current vegetable availability includes:
bok choy
chinese cabbage
green onions
mustard greens
sweet potatoes
swiss chard

No longer offered:
mixed greens

Future winter vegetables will also include:
baby beets
broccoli raab
brussels sprout
mixed baby lettuce & greens


Quick White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes

- serves 2 to 3 -


2 pounds Swiss chard, larger stems removed, and leaves chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
1 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan


1. Fill a large pot halfway up with water. Bring to a boil and then toss in the swiss chard leaves. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Drain the chard in a colander.

2. Wipe out any excess water in the pot. Then pour in the olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the tomatoes, turn the heat to medium-high, and when the mixture comes to a boil add the beans. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.

4. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the chard. Cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add some grated Parmesan to finish. Enjoy!

Golumpki's or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

We made these the other day with our cabbage, carrots and turnips and they turned out phenomenal! Give these a whirl, you might like them.

- serves 4 -

1Tbsp Olive oil
1 leek or onion
2 med. turnip, cubed small
2 med. carrots, cubed small
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 cup cooked rice
16 oz cooked ground meat
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch ground coriander
salt & pepper
1 cabbage head

1 onion finely chopped
1 cup broth or stock
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups crushed tomatoes

1. Brown ground meat.

2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium low heat. Add leek or onion, turnip, carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until softened.

3. Remove from heat and stir in meat, rice, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, lemon juice and ground coriander. Season with salt & pepper.

4. Preheat oven to 325 F. Oil a 9x13 baking dish. Cook the whole cabbage in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until pliable. Drain and rinse under cold water. Peel off whole leaves to stuff. Pat dry.

5. Lay leaves flat and make a pile in the middle of each, about 1/3 to 2/3 cup depending on the size of the leaf. Roll up each leaf, folding the sides to enclose the filling in a neat parcel. Place the rolls, seam side down, in the baking dish. Pour in stock. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, heat the oil for the sauce in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the crushed tomatoes. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer about 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.

7. Using slotted spoon, serve stuffed cabbage rolls topped with the tomato sauce. Enjoy!

Happy holidays and many thanks!

Ben & Patricia

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Welcome neigbors in Mordecai & Oakwood!

Hello and Welcome!

A big welcome to all our neighbors in Mordecai and Oakwood! Ben's Produce is a fairly new agrarian venture for me, Benjamin Shields, and my partner, Patricia Parker. We offer you fresh, local, un-certified organic vegetables grown in Garner in partnership with Double-T Farm where I work as field manager and apprentice. You may have heard of Double-T Farm and owner Tom Kumpf before. They have a 200 member CSA with distribution in 5-Points on Tuesdays and also sell produce to 18 Seaboard, the Umstead Hotel and Solas.

Purchase of vegetables is made through our online store We offer pickup of your vegetables at our house, 604 Sasser St., on Tuesday evening from 4pm to 7:30pm only. No online payments are accepted, cash only at pickup. Please see the store home page for more detailed information.

Our vegetables will be for sale all winter as we grow cold hardy varieties in unheated greenhouses. We grow our vegetables with respect to the primacy of ecological and personal health. Organic principles are adhered to on our small farm which allows for such authenticity and quality. We take pride in our principles, growing methods and transparency. We cordially invite you to come see for yourselves by appointment!

Community Supported Agriculture:
We will be announcing details of our 2010 Spring/Summer CSA very soon, in the next week or so. Keep your eyes peeled!

Current vegetable availability includes:
bok choy
chinese cabbage
green onions
mixed greens
mustard greens
sweet potatoes
swiss chard

Future winter vegetables will also include:
baby beets
broccoli raab
brussels sprout
mixed baby lettuce & greens

Some Farm News...

We have been framing up the last of 4 hoop houses on the farm.
We aren't finished yet because we're waiting for some calm sunny weather to place the plastic over the frame. Wind creates all sorts of problems as you can imagine and rain and cold are not helpful either. We'll probably attach the plastic tomorrow, Thursday, with the help of a torpedo heater to stretch and loosen the plastic. After the plastic cools down, it will tighten back up and create a taught skin over the frame that can better respond to snow, ice, rain and wind. Here I am setting the purlin on a bow. The purlin runs the whole length of the house at it's peak to tie the bows together.

The farm is finally slowing down some. We are not planting much at this time and the weeds have slowed down too. Yay! It's very nice to have a break from weeding. Chickweed on the otherhand, is a voracious winter annual that does well under row covers and in hoop houses. We did one cultivation of lettuce in a hoophouse late last week to stem it's growth. If left to it's own devices, it would over take our winter vegetables and smother them! No rest for the weary!

We have had a lot of rain recently. It has replenished our reserves and more! We had more than double average rainfall in November and we're almost at average for December and the month is not half over yet! Luckily, this is not such a bad time of year for greater than average precipitation. We did loose our radicchio crop in the field to rot. It was an experimental crop so we're not at a loss.

I spoke to a good friend last night and he told me about wilting kale with salt! I had never heard of it but it sounds good and we'll be trying it soon. So here it is.

1 bunch kale
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. salt

Mix a few tablespoons oil with salt. Generously rub whole kale leaves with the oil/salt mixture and allow to sit until and let wilt at room temperature. Rinse leaves after wilting if you wish, then chop or tear to desired size. Eat as is, add other salad ingredients or as my friend suggested, mix with mashed avocado. I know, it sounds a bit strange but sounds good to me.

Thank you for stopping by and stay warm and dry. . We hope to see you Tuesday evening!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December Recipes

Here are a few recipes you can use with our vegetables...

Southern greens


  • 1 to 2 bunches of greens -- collards, kale, mustard, turnip, etc.
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Splash vegetable oil
  • Splash apple cider vinegar
  • 1 or 2 hot chile peppers, seeded and minced, optional
  • Bunch of cooked bacon or smoked pork
  • seasoned salt and ground black pepper or seasoned pepper


Tear the greens into large pieces. Wash the greens well in a sink full of cold water, lifting greens out and letting grit stay on bottom of sink. Drain sink, change water and wash again; repeat washings until there is no grit on the greens. Cut away tough stems; roll large leaves and cut in strips or chop.

In a large kettle, sautee onions until translucent, then add 2 cups water, oil, vinegar and chile pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Gradually stir in the greens, allowing each batch to wilt before adding more geens. Put bacon or smoked meat in greens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour if using collards. Cook for less time when using other greens, to your taste. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the greens to a serving dish; serve hot. Serve with cornbread.

Penne Pasta with Spinach and Bacon


  • 1 (12 ounce) package penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the penne pasta, and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place bacon in the skillet, and cook until browned and crisp. Add garlic, and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook until heated through.
  3. Place the spinach into a colander, and drain the hot pasta over it so it is wilted. Transfer to a large serving bowl, and toss with the remaining olive oil, and the bacon and tomato mixture.

Stir-Fried Kale and Broccoli Florets


  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 chile pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 head fresh broccoli, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut in thin strips
  • juice of 2 limes
  • salt


  1. Heat olive oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. Stir in garlic and chile pepper; cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in broccoli; cook 1 minute. Add kale, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes. Pour in lime juice, and season with salt to taste. Toss well.

Potato Turnip Mash-up


  • 2 large turnips, cubed
  • 3 white potatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Place turnip and potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Cook 25 to 30 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat, and drain.
  2. Mix milk and 2 tablespoons butter with the turnip and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Mash until slightly lumpy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fresh, local veggies for winter!

Hello All!

Step outside early these mornings and what do we see? The work of Jack Frost! Cold weather is here, albeit intermittently, as evidenced by the frost covered cabbage shown here. This picture is from last Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving.

We hope y'all had a wonderful holiday. We gave thanks for all our blessing, which includes you, our supporters! We couldn't do this without you. We also gave thanks for the cold weather, which allows us to slow down and attend to tasks.

On the farm, Tom, Angel and I finished framing a 96' x 16' hoophouse yesterday and covered it with plastic today. We now have 3 such houses in production with a fourth house on the way. The weather was pretty good today to install the plastic, it was warm, sunny and calm. It went without a hitch, very nice. The hoophouses are planted with green onions, lettuce and asian greens, which we are planning on harvesting in January. So beware, winter veggies will still be with us in the depths of cold weather. Here is a photo of me planting lettuce.

We also have been putting row covers over plants out in the field. We have covered lettuce, swiss chard, carrots, spinach and beets. They all do well in the cold when protected from the elements.
This is what it looks like...big, white blankets!
We use wire supports under the row covers to keep the fabric from laying on the plants and mesh bags filled with crushed stone to hold the covers in place.

The online store is still up and running. We have moved the weekly pick-up to Tuesdays evenings from 4pm to 7:30pm to coincide with the farm schedule.

<-- click on the image above to go to store.

Vegetable availability hasn't changed much. We now have:

red & green slicing tomatoes
green onions
mixed greens
swiss chard
bok choy
mustard greens
sweet potatoes

Until next week,
Ben & Patricia

Friday, November 20, 2009

Giving Thanks

(This is Ben showing off beautiful beets.)

Thank you for making our first week using Ben's Produce online farm stand a success! We couldn't be doing any of this without your support. We have received a lot of requests to ship our produce, but sadly we are not currently prepared for such a venture (baby steps). However, we are willing to change the pick up days if that will be something that works better for folks. Fridays or Saturdays might work as well, if more people seem to be interested in this change. Please e-mail us or post comments here to let us know which pick up days would work best for you (Wednesdays, Fridays or Saturdays). That being said, this week due to Thanksgiving, pick up is scheduled for Tuesday. You can check out what's available this week at

We have a whole mess of collards and sweet potatoes - both make very yummy dishes for Thanksgiving Dinner. I'm including two savory sweet potato recipes and one Paula Dean collard green recipe below - in case anyone is interested in bringing something a little different for Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Parmesan-Coated Sweet Potato Fries

Serves 4; Prep time: 15 minutes; Total time 40 minutes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 large egg whites
1 1/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
4 small sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), scrubbed and quartered lengthwise
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and then set aside.
2. In a shallow bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and pepper. In a separate shallow bowl, lightly beat the egg whites with 2 tablespoons of water until combined. Place the Parmesan on a sheet of waxed paper or put it in another shallow bowl.
3. Dip the sweet potato first in the flour mixture, shaking off excess. Then dip each wedge into the egg white mixture until coated. Finally, dip the sweet potato in the Parmesan, pressing the exposed surface of the potato into the cheese. (Don't worry if some gets on the skin.) Transfer potato wedges onto the prepared baking sheet as you go.
4. Bake potatoes until tender and crisp, about 25 minutes. Serve sprinkled with more salt if desired.
Per serving: 309 calories; 13 g protein; 6 g fat; 52 g carb; 7 g fiber.

Sweet Potato Gratin with Smoked Chiles

4 cups heavy cream (I use a combination of whole milk and cream)
1 canned chipotle pepper [you can also use fresh diced poblano or Anaheim chiles to taste]
6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. In a blender, puree the cream and chipotle until smooth.
3. In a 10 x 10-inch casserole, arrange a fourth of the sweet potatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper, and pour a fourth of the cream over all. Repeat t with the remaining potatoes and cream, forming 4 layers. May be prepared up to this point one ha/f- hour ahead, covered, and refrigerated.
4. Bake for 1 hour, or until the cream has been ~absorbed and the potatoes are browned. May be pre-pared up to 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. To serve, reheat in a 350 F. oven for 12 minutes.
Makes 8 to 10 servings

Collard Greens
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen


* 1/2 pound smoked meat (ham hocks, smoked turkey wings, or smoked neck bones)
* 1 tablespoon House seasoning, recipe follows
* 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
* 1 tablespoon hot red pepper sauce
* 1 large bunch collard greens
* 1 tablespoon butter


In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add smoked meat, house seasoning, seasoned salt and hot sauce. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour.

Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand. The tender young leaves in the heart of the collards don't need to be stripped. Stack 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another, roll up, and slice into 1/2 to 1-ince thick slices. Place greens in pot with meat and add butter. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve with favorite dish as a side.
House Seasoning:

* 1 cup salt
* 1/4 cup black pepper
* 1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.


There's a vegetarian version of this recipe in the "It's Not Easy Being Green" post.

We have a few more pictures to share with ya'll :0)

This is Ben in the hoop house.

Ben washing turnips at home for dinner.

Ben makes a mean pie. This was our collaborative effort to make homemade pie-sized "pot pie". I made the filling (ground turkey, beets, turnips, greens, carrots and homemade sauce) and Ben made the crust. It was delicious!

That's it for now. Have a good Thanksgiving holiday and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Online store is open and farm updates...

Hello y'all!

It's been a minute since we've posted and we have a bunch of news! The online store for Ben's Produce is now open for business! Check us out at . We have been planting lots of stuff on the farm but now more about our store.

First of all, we wish y'all a big welcome to our online store! Now that Music On the Porch is over for the year, we have a way to connect with y'all. We understand that an online store is no match for a real farm stand in terms of visceral experience when choosing your food. That said, please contact us if you have any questions about the produce and you also have the right to refuse any produce you order for any reason.

Ben's Produce is cash only. What does this mean for you? When placing your order, please complete the whole Check Out process. We need your name, phone number and email address but not your home address to fill your order. If you do not wish to include your address, please fill in the required fields with xxx. A few minutes after placing your order, you will receive an automated order confirmation email. If you do not receive this email, it will mean your order has not been placed. You should not experience any difficulties with this process. However, if you do, please contact us for help. Ben's phone # is 919-800-8898.

You can pick-up your produce at our house, located at 604 Sasser St. Raleigh, on the Wednesday following your order, between 4pm and 7pm.

We look forward to seeing y'all next Wednesday, November 18th!

Here I am, planting strawberries! I planted 600 strawberry plants for next spring for Ben's Produce customers! I also planted 4500 other plants, with farmhand Angel, for Double-T Farm! Behind me you can see the plants surrounded by black plastic. We use the plastic as a means of weed control. We are experimenting with a cornstarch based biodegradable plastic that can be turned into the soil when its lifespan is over. Since petroleum based plastic has large negative environmental and socio-economic impacts, we are excited to see the results of the corn based plastic.

Here is the hoop house I was preparing for winter lettuce with the broadfork I used to loosen the soil on Wednesday. Also called a grelinette, the broadfork is a centuries old tool used to loosen soil for growing food without turning the soil over. I step on the cross bar attached to the curves tines and rock it back to raise and loosen the soil. Loosening soil without turning it over has many beneficial effects; not bringing up weed seeds, allowing bacteria and other microorganisms to remain at their preferred soil stratus and maintenance of soil tilth (structure or crumb). It was nice to work outside during the deluge of a nor'easter without getting wet, not to mention the exercise and patter of the rain.

Thank you all for stopping by! See you next Wednesday!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Closing out Music on the Porch with Zedeco Music

Hi all!

As you all know, tonight is the last Music on the Porch event of the season. My folks are in town visiting and will be dancing to good zydeco music I'm sure. Ben is still ironing out some kinks in the online produce store and once it's all in order, we'll post a new blog and send out an e-mail with all the details. We will continue to have a weekly offering of good produce for those of you interested in getting your fresh veggies close to home.

It's been great sharing a few months of Fridays with every one of you. Thank you for all your kind works, support, ideas, and conversation.

We'll see you in a few - until then, here's the produce list for this week:

Red and green leaf lettuce
Swiss chard
Turnips and greens
Green onions
Bok choi
Mustard greens
Chinese cabbage
Mixed greens
Hot peppers
Cherry tomatoes
Roma tomatoes

As usual, thanks for stopping by. We hope to see you this evening! Come out and see:

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's not easy being green...Greens, greens and more greens! YUM

Hi all! It's another beautiful Friday in October. We're looking forward to the next two Music on the Porch Friday's, but we are sad that it will be over so soon. It's been an awesome season and we're so thankful we talked to Guy way back in August and were provided this awesome opportunity to offer ya'll vegetables every Friday. Guy, Will, Wei, and all of you have made this such an awesome experience. Thank you so much for your support, your questions, conversations, and company! As Ben stated in our last blog, we are working on getting an online store up and running so that hopefully there will be no break in your ability to get fresh veggies close to home. We live on Sasser Street and will have a weekly pickup outside our home for anyone that's interested.

Until then, of course, we will be coming to the last two events. Today we will offer the following produce items:

- Lettuce (summer crisp and bib)
- Swiss chard
- Green onions
- Chinese cabbage
- Tatsoi
- Bok choi
- Mixed greens
- Radishes
- Kale
- Collards
- Turnips and greens
- Mustard greens
- Broccoli
- Black cherry tomatoes
- Roma tomatoes
- Sweet potatoes

We've been eating gorgeous salads with all the stuff listed above and we've also been eating the heck out of greens. It might not be easy being green, but it sure is easy to eat those yummy and nutritious greens.

This is how we like to cook our greens (collards, turnips, kale and more):
1) Start by peeling and chopping garlic and onions and browning them on medium heat in olive oil (Ben likes to use bacon fat) in the pan (i like big honkin chunks of garlic and onion - when Ben makes his greens, the pieces are usually smaller - cut these to taste).
2) Add about one cup of water to the garlic and onions. this is when you add your seasonings. I like to use vegetable/vegetarian bullion (a half piece or a whole piece depending on how many greens I'm making), a little bit of crushed red pepper, and just a small shot of Bragg's (or low sodium soy sauce, if we're out of Bragg's).
3) Rinse your greens and start tearing them up in whatever size pieces you like and put them in the pan as you do. I do this fairly quickly and haphazardly. Sometimes I include parts of the stalk if they're not woody. If they're woody, leave them out. I also like to add a splash of vinegar. You could substitute this for a vinegar based hot sauce if you like spicy foods. Cook the greens until they are wilted and voila, you have delicious greens to eat with rice, on the side with burgers, with shrimps and cheesy grits, and almost anything else really :0).

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Season of Change & 10/16 Produce List!

This photograph here is our lettuce patch on the farm. We've been busy and not slowing down! Strawberries are being transplanted for next spring and we are going strong with our fall & winter crops. Lots of greens, beets and carrots are sprouting and growing in time for winter harvest.

BIG NEWS!!! We will launch our online farm stand come early November after Music on the Porch is over for the season. Each week you will be able to purchase produce by the item via your virtual shopping cart and pick it up at our house in Mordecai during set hours one day a week! We have yet to work the details but we will let you know as soon as possible. !

So, here's the list of the produce that will be available at Ben's Produce Friday October 16th:

Lettuce (red & green summer crisp, you won't find it in stores!)
Baby greens salad mix - baby arugula, baby tatsoi, baby mizuna (has a mild peppery flavor)
Swiss chard
Chinese cabbage
Turnips & turnip greens
Green onions
Sweet peppers
Hot peppers
Sweet potatoes
MAYBE black cherry tomatoes :0)

As usual, thanks for stopping by. We hope to see you tomorrow at Music on the Porch.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Back from Massachusetts and the 10/09/09 Produce List

That's a picture of the beach on the Cape. We're back from beautiful Massachusetts and back in good ol' North Carolina! The wedding was gorgeous. The whole weekend was a blast! We had good times with friends and family and ate lots of really good food (I had TWO lobsters!!!). We're sorry to have missed last week, but we'll be back from here on out :0).

So, here's the list of the produce that will be available at Ben's Produce Friday October 9th:

Lettuce (summer crisp and bib)
Swiss chard
Bok choi
Chinese cabbage
Turnip greens
Baby turnips
Asian and Italian eggplant
Sweet peppers
Spicy peppers
MAYBE radishes and black cherry tomatoes :0)

As usual, thanks for stopping by. We hope to see you tomorrow at Music on the Porch.

Ben and Patricia

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Produce List 9/25/09 and we're going to a wedding next week (so, sadly, no stand)

Hi all! Today I went with Ben to Double-T farm to help him tie tomatoes and pick some of our produce for this afternoon. I'm currently working on a couple papers on farming, I thought it would be nice to actually get out on the farm for some inspiration. While I was there, I took a few pictures to share with ya'll.

But, before we get to those, I did want to let you know that Ben and I will not be setting up the produce stand next week. We're going to Massachusetts to see Ben's family as well as to go to his cousin's wedding. We're super pumped about the trip, but we're also sad to miss out on one of our Fridays. Music on the Porch is such a fabulous routine, I know it will feel strange to miss it...but we'll be back the following weeks for sure :0).

Okay, here's the list of produce we'll be offering this evening at Music on the Porch:

Bok choi*
Swiss chard*
Red Russian kale*
Eggplant (Asian and Italian)
Cubanelle peppers (sweet)
Bell peppers (sweet - multi-colored)
Anaheim Chiles (spicy)
Poblanos (spicy)
Watermelon (sugar babies)
Sun jewel melons (Asian melons)

Okay - now, for the pictures:
lettuce on the farm

the veggie cart full of the stuff we picked this morning - getting ready to be washed

ben, through the tomatoes (the one's we tied up today)
these are black cherry tomatoes - they taste kind of like cherry versions of cherokee purples (yum!)

i love okra flowers!

more gorgeous lettuce on the farm

this was first thing this morning - headed to the field to pick produce for this evening

eggplant flowers are pretty beautiful too!

ben making the supports for tying tomatoes

washing the veggies

tatsoi and bok choi

Thanks for stopping by! See you soon :0).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yummy Ideas

A couple of you shared some ideas and recipes for our produce. I figured I'd find those recipes online and share with everyone else. Thanks for the good ideas!

Wondering what to do with your acorn squash?
Here's one recipe from Cooking Light (

These acorn squash rings make a great side dish for your Thanksgiving table or for any fall or winter dinner. They're attractive to look at and delicious to eat.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

* 2 acorn squash
* 1/4 cup maple syrup
* 1/4 cup orange marmalade
* 1 tsp ground ginger

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice top and bottom from each squash and discard ends. Carefully slice each acorn squash into four rings, making eight rings in all.

Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Lay rings on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Combine maple syrup, marmalade and ginger in a small bowl.

Remove squash rings from oven and brush with maple syrup mixture. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with glaze once again. Bake for 10 minutes, or until tender.

Serves 4

Per Serving: Calories 211, Calories from Fat 2, Total Fat 0.2g (sat 0g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 20mg, Carbohydrate 50.4g, Fiber 3.5g, Protein 1.9g

--> If you don't have maple syrup on hand, or just want to play with this recipe, I strongly suggest honey and cayenne pepper. The buttery goodness of the acorn squash combined with sweet local honey and the extra kick of cayenne is a taste explosion.

Grilled Okra!!!! I've never done this before, but will be making this tonight. Thanks for the idea (we don't have any sesame oil on hand, so we'll be using olive...):

Grilled Okra
Recipe by: Steven Raichlen, Cookbook Author
This recipe serves: 4

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 5 mins

* 1 pound fresh okra
* 1 tablespoon dark (Asian style) sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil
* salt and pepper,to taste

Cooking Instructions

1. Preheat the grill to high.

2. Trim the tips off the stems of the okra, but do not cut into the pods. Lay 5 pieces of okra side by side in a neat row at the edge of a cutting board. Skewer crosswise with 2 bamboo skewers, one at the top, one at the bottom. Lightly brush the skewered okra with sesame oil and season with salt and pepper.

3. Grill the okra until tender and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side, turning once with a flat spatula. Serve the okra at once, letting each guest remove the skewers.
Nutrition Facts

* Serving Size:about 5 okra
* Amount Per Serving

* Calories69
* Protein2 g
* Total Carbohydrate9 g
* Dietary Fiber4 g
* Sugar3 g
* Total Fat3 g
* Saturated Fat0 g
* Monounsaturated Fat1 g
* Polyunsaturated Fat1 g
* Percent Calories from Fat42 %
* Percent Calories from Protein12 %
* Percent Calories from Carbohydrate46 %


Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Produce List 9/18/09

Hi ya'll!

I hope everyone has had a great week so far. Is it just us, or does it seem like Fridays keep getting here faster and faster? Tomorrow will mark our 6th week at Music on the Porch. The season is slowly changing - you can almost feel fall in the air. It seems like things are a little more magical when the seasons are in transition. More magical and more hectic. Ben's been busy on the farm; I've been busy with school. We all have our busy lives to attend to. That's why I'm so glad we have Friday evenings to just take a breath and slow it down and soak it all in just a little more than we're able to during the week.

So, since things have been so busy, we don't have any photos to share with you from this week on the farm. This week, it's just the produce list (and a little wistful rambling from yours truly).

Produce Available Tomorrow:

Cubanelle peppers (sweet)

Various colors of bell peppers (sweet)

Anaheim chiles (spicy)

Pablano peppers (spicy)


Eggplant (Italian and Asian)

Acorn squash (winter squash)


Sun Jewel Melons

We're sad to say that there will not be any cucumbers, summer squash, or onions this week - but hopefully the okra, acorn squash, and melons will make up for that :0).

Oh, we may have tomatoes and basil...

Thanks for stopping by!

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day brings end of summer!

Thank you all for a fabulous Friday last week at Music on the Porch! Thanks to Guy, Will and Peace China for their continued support and especially you! It was quite the surprise to be called up on stage by Guy last Friday! Guess I'll have to turn up the microphone next time! We were glad to hear shouts of support...

Labor Day was this past Monday, heralding the end of summer and ushering in the fall season at Ben's Produce and Double-T Farm. We have been quite busy on the farm. We've transplanted thousands of plants for fall harvest, such as green onions, Asian greens, lots of lettuce and beets. We've also planted the first round of carrots, radishes and turnips, which we'll start to harvest in early October. We've also started to pot new strawberry plants for next spring, about 7000 plants!

This week we will offer Italian and Asian eggplant, cucumbers, the last of the summer squash, okra, sweet and hot peppers, yellow cherry tomatoes, onions and basil. We may possibly have tomatoes depending on availability.

Here are some photos from the farm this week:

Eggplant in it's natural environment!

Okra flower and fruit...

Newly transplanted Chinese Cabbage...

Young Fall cucumber plants in a high tunnel...

Fall tomato crop in a high tunnel...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ben's Produce Stand Goodies 9/04/09 at Music on the Porch

Wowie! Thanks again for an awesome Friday. The band was great and the spirit of the crowd was great - all of this in spite of the rainy evening. A kind thanks to Wei of Peace China for providing us with a table and tent! Otherwise, I'm not really sure what we'd do! We look forward to seeing your faces again tomorrow. Please stop by the stand to say hello - even if you don't need any produce, we'd love to talk with you :0).

Here's the list of the produce that will be available at our stand tomorrow:

Summer squash (including butterpans, yellow crook neck, eightballs, and zucchini)

Eggplant (including Asain and Italian varieties)

Cubanelles (sweet peppers - they are yummy!)

Pablanos (hot peppers - also extremely tasty)

Chiles (hot peppers - I like to use these in pasta sauces and cooked in burgers)



Possibly Okra, Tomatoes and Sun Jewel Melons

Mother Nature is slowly but surely toning down the heat and we have some previews of the produce that will soon be on it's way


bok choi

tat soi

green onion


Angel preparing the ground for turnips (the three main laborers on the farm include, Tom (of Double-T Farm), Ben, and Angel

Tom sowing carrot seeds

...and for the grand finale! Here's my cartoon version of Ben (since he couldn't take a picture of himself today at the farm sowing turnip seeds). Hahahaha! ;0)

We'll be seeing ya'll tomorrow!

WELL - it seems I spoke/wrote too soon. As soon as I finished writing this blog and posting it (the first time), Ben did send me a picture of him working on the farm (I'm keeping the other one up too though, it takes a lot of hard work and effort to make Ben look so darn goofy) :0)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ben's Produce available at Music on the Porch this evening

Hi all!

Well, today will mark our third appearance at Music on the Porch, selling produce at Ben’s Produce stand. Ben and I are psyched about the bluegrass music and about seeing you all again.

Here’s the list of the produce we’ll be offering this evening:

Cubanelle peppers

Sweet bell peppers

Anaheim chiles

Pablano peppers




Summer squash and zucchini


Onions (red and yellow)

If you’re interested, I’ve included a few recipes below. Each of them incorporates at least some of the produce we’ll be offering this evening. I highly recommend Paula Deen’s tomato pie recipe. I made it earlier this summer and Ben made it a couple nights ago. It’s so good, you’ll want to eat the whole thing at once!

Oh, one more thing. We’ll be reducing our e-mails to one per week from here on out. We still may be posting more than one blog entry per week, but we’ll be keeping our e-mails to a minimum.

That’s all for now! Thanks again for stopping by! See you in a few hours. Until then…

When we make this pie, it doesn’t look nearly as pretty as Paula’s…but it sure does taste good! Also, I’m lazy on the tomato peeling front, so I leave the peel on. Some people seed the tomatoes, so it’s not so wet once it’s finished. Since I don’t care about the appearance and really care about the flavor, I also don’t do this…but each to her/his own.

Tomato Pie

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen
Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 6 servings

• 4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
• 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
• 1/2 cup chopped green onion
• 1 (9-inch) prebaked deep dish pie shell
• 1 cup grated mozzarella
• 1 cup grated cheddar
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the tomatoes in a colander in the sink in 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes.
Layer the tomato slices, basil, and onion in pie shell. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the grated cheeses and mayonnaise together. Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
To serve, cut into slices and serve warm.

Available at the stand: tomatoes and basil

Another one from Paula Deen...

Tomato Grits

• 2 cup water
• 1 1/4 cup milk
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup quick cooking grits
• 1/2 and 1 tablespoon butter
• 1/3 green onions, diced
• 1 6-ounce Kraft garlic cheese roll
• 2 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
• 1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel dice tomatoes and green chilies
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil. Add the salt and slowly add the grits and return to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. While stirring the grits add the butter and stir until butter is melted. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the grits are thick and creamy. Remove from heat and set aside.
Using a skillet, saute the onions in the remaining tablespoon of butter for 1 minute. Add the garlic cheese, 1/2 cup cheddar, and onions to grits, and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the tomatoes and mix well. Stir in the beaten eggs. Pour the grits into a greased 8x11x2-inch casserole and bake for 40 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the casserole for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Ease of preparation: moderate
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen


Stuffed Pablano Peppers

8 Poblano peppers (2 for each person)
1 medium size onion chopped
15 oz can or 1 cup corn
15 oz can or 1 black bean
3 – 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 – 3 tsp red chili powder or per taste
1 – 1&1/2 tbsp cumin powder
3 – 4 cups cooked rice
1 lime or lemon
Salt to taste
1/2 – 1 cup grated cheese of your choice. I prefer fontina as it is mild.
Roast the pepper in an oven with broiler on or stove top on all sides. Then, put the peppers in a ziploc or paper bag and let them cool.

Roasted poblano pepper
In the mean time heat oil in a pan and saute onions and garlic. Then add the chili powder, cumin powder, mix well. Add corn, black beans and mix with spices. Add rice, salt, squeeze some lime juice, chopped cilantro and mix. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Now, if the peppers have cooled down, peel the skin. Core the top of the pepper so that the seeds are removed. Stuff the rice mixture in each pepper and slit open the narrow side of the pepper half way. Sprinkle with cheese on th slit open end and bake it in a preheated 350F degree oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted well and the pepper & stuffing has warmed through. Serve hot with a side of salsa and guacamole.

Stuffed Poblano Pepper with a side of salsa and guacamole

Mom's Cucumber Salad

4 medium cucumbers
1 ½ cup sour cream (fat free or regular) OR plain yogurt
Salt (to get the juices out)
Garlic (to taste – powdered or cloves are both fine)
Dill (to taste)
1 tsp white vinegar

1) Peel cucumbers
2) Thinly slice (or grate – depending on how you like to eat it) cucumbers
3) Sprinkle salt on cucumbers, let sit for 5-10 minutes. Squeeze water out of cucumbers. The goal here is to get the water out of the cucumbers so the sour cream (or plain yogurt) salad isn’t watery.
4) Add sour cream (or plain yogurt).
5) Add dill, garlic, and vinegar.
6) Stir. Taste it to make sure you like it. If not, adjust to your taste. Serve and enjoy.

How to cook eggplant:

How to cook eggplant:
Last week, I received a lot of questions from folks about how to cook eggplant. I thought I’d find a good site that gives the basics. Check it out, if you’re interested:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friday was fabulous!

Thanks to all for another fantastic Friday at Music on the Porch! We enjoyed the music and all the friendly folks. Friday was our second time setting up Ben's Produce stand. This week we had a beautiful sign, made for us by our awesome neighbor, Dave.

We are blessed to have talented, giving and caring neighbors and friends.

We managed to offer a few more veggies than we'd originally anticipated, including eggplant and cucumbers, both of which were a big hit.

We look forward to seeing you around town and at Music on the Porch next week. Ben and I have never seen No Strings Attached, but we're both HUGE fans of bluegrass and honky tonk. We can't wait!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Friday August 21, 2009 Available Produce

As promised, I am getting back with you on the produce that will be available at Ben's Produce stand tomorrow evening at Music on the Porch. It turns out Mother Nature has the same thing to offer us this Friday as last, except, sadly, minus the melons. Thus, we will have the following:

- pablano peppers
- sweet cubanelles peppers
- chiles
- sweet bell peppers
- summer squash (including eight ball and flying saucer among the "regulars")
- tomatoes
- basil

Ben and I primarily eat home cooked meals. It is a rare event for us to go out to eat. So I know how difficult it can be coming up with something good to eat for dinner (or lunch or breakfast for that matter). We get all of our produce from the farm, so we have to be extremely inventive coming up with new and different tasting menu items, especially when it seems like all we have to eat are peppers. I thought I'd share with you the items we've come up with (or "stolen" from recipe sites on the world wide web):

Idea 1:
Rachel Ray's Fennel Pepper Spaghetti

This recipe calls for things beyond what we offer at the farm stand, but are likely to be things you have around the house. I really enjoy the fennel veggie version, but if you don't have fennel seeds (which gives it a sausage-y flavor) and you do have ground meat (beef, turkey, etc.), you can always add it to the mix. Also, I changed this recipe up a bit to fit what we had available. Instead of using canned tomatoes (which we are going to can ourselves as use once that sad day comes when the tomatoes aren't picked fresh off the vine), I used fresh tomatoes and let them simmer down (I added these to the whole vegetable medley last). Also, since we tend to like spicy foods (me more so than Ben), I also included one chopped pablano pepper in the mix. The vegetable does call for one green and one red pepper - I used the two different colors of the bell peppers we had. Finally, I prefer the flavor of vegetable stock over chicken stock (at least in a veggie dish) and used it instead.

Idea 2:
I actually used the leftovers from the recipe above and put them (being sure to strain out the tomato juices and without the pasta) into a super tasty omelet, including swiss cheese into the mix (but shredded parmesan or mozzarella would probably be better - we had swiss in our fridge). It was really tasty! But if you're not into using the leftovers (or you are out of them) for the omelet, chopped peppers are G-R-E-A-T in an omelet anytime! I treat omelets as a way to use up veggies that are on their way out, so I include whatever makes sense. I usually slice up a tomato to eat simple-style on the side with salt and pepper.

Idea 3:
Last night we made yummy quesadillas for dinner. We actually prefer to make these using corn tortillas, but we only had flour tortillas in the fridge, so we used those. This time for cheese, what we had was a Mexican cheese mix. I sauteed a couple chopped summer squash (any variety will do - I used one green and one yellow to maximize the colors in our food), about 4 peppers (again, each a different color), one chopped onion and added a few basic spices that I like on my food. Then, all that needed to happen next was to melt a butter (or oil, if you prefer) in the pan on low heat, place one tortilla in it, then cheese, then the filling, cheese again (I like my cheese!), then the top tortilla. Let the cheese melt and the tortilla brown and flip. Do the same. We ate these with some vegetarian refried beans (I prefer these because they're lower in fat and I like the taste better) on the side (with diced raw onions mixed in (I also like my onions). We happened to have salsa and sour cream in the fridge. This fed three of us (Ben, a friend and myself) and we even had leftovers!

I could keep going - and if anyone expresses an interest I can post more - but I should probably get back to work reading for class ;).

Thanks again for stopping by!

Pretty Produce Growing on the Farm

Hello all! I hope everyone is having a fabulous Thursday morning.

As stated in the previous blog, we will be posting the final list of the produce that will be available tomorrow at Ben's Produce stand. Until then, I thought I'd share some pictures with you of all that yummy food growing on the farm. Our digital camera died a couple weeks ago, so these pictures were taken with our phones (yay technology!).

zucchini of the eight ball variety

zucchini of the baby bush variety

anaheim chile

pablano pepper

sweet pepper - the the cubanelle variety (tastes similar to bell peppers)

new broccoli plants growing (with irrigation)

summer squash plants

Our friend, April, and I at the produce stand last Friday

...and finally, Ben's too "tuff" for the tomatoes :-)!

More to come soon (including a price comparison between our produce and similar produce at your local grocery market - we will also compare prices with farmer's markets, but that will have to wait a little longer).

Thanks for stopping by!