Edible Flowers

By Rita from the Herb FARMacy

Edible flowers are a mixed selection of nasturtiums, lemon/tangerine marigolds, calendula, chervil, borage, garlic chives, Mexican mint marigold and/or lavender. The bottom of each container will be “lined” with nasturtium leaves or chervil leaves that also can be enjoyed on salads!

The depots will keep these gems cool. Members should refrigerate the containers ASAP and use within 24 hours. They can last longer, but the flavor and color deteriorates. For the best flavor, remove the stamens and pistils from the flowers, using the petals. Some chefs just use the entire flower of the nasturtium; it’s really up to you. If you want, you can g-e-n-t-l-y rinse the flowers before serving, but our farm is certified organic, and we have used no treatments (even accepted organic) on the plants. We have checked for insects, but just in case we may have missed some little ones, please check the flowers before serving.

The flavor of the flowers is similar to the leaves we typically use. So explore and enjoy your edible flower experience. 

From Farm to Depot: a Day on the FDC Truck

By Jennifer Percy, Salem Depot

I had a week off from work during the first week of August, and so naturally I decided to get up at 4:15 am one morning to ride the FDC truck. Steve Fowler, FDC’s “long-haul” driver, met me in Salem at about 4:45. If anyone is wondering, it is still pretty dark at that time.

We had five or six stops to make, including one in New Hampshire at FDC’s former main supplier, Picadilly Farms. We drove up 95 to 495, down to Route 2, up to New Hampshire right near the Massachusetts and Vermont borders, then made our way through the Pioneer Valley (I think—it was all pretty much places I’d never been before).

One thing that really interested me about my trip was that we drove past lots of small farms, some with farm stands, some with signs advertising their CSAs. I grew up in Minnesota, partly on a farm, and most farmers in the Midwest grew field corn (to feed animals) or soybeans. Not many grew “people food.” Along our FDC drive, there was a pretty little place that had pick-your-own blueberries; we drove a loop around the farm buildings past a nice patch of blueberry bushes. Another produce barn had a tractor inside off to the side with the “hood” off and its engine in parts; a cat sprawled sleepily nearby.

What I did on the trip, mostly, was sit, it seems like. Steve really seems to be a genius at what he does. He had a lot to do, but as a visitor, I only helped get the boxes on the truck at the farms, then help get them off the truck at the depot. So there was some lifting, carrying, and shoving, interspersed with a lot of sitting.

The thing that surprised me the most about the trip was how complicated it all was. Steve had frequent phone calls with Julie, starting from about 7 a.m. it seemed like. I thought that we were just driving out to pick up predetermined, already-packed crates of food, but that isn’t the case at all. Steve and Julie seemed to be constantly calculating, recalculating, and making decisions about whether we needed to ask another grower for some more blueberries, or did we want three flats of cherry tomatoes because they didn’t have enough big tomatoes, or how many bags of corn? (For example, Julie knew we needed 1,600 ears of corn. So how many bags? It depended on whether they in bags of 48 or 60. Lakeside had a few bags with 60 ears, and did we want the rest in bags of 48, or did we want all the bags to be 48-count?) Steve was also calling farmers, and he had to return used crates, berry boxes and corn bags to the right farmers.

We arrived at the Marblehead Depot around 1 p.m. and found the little truck and Dan already there with the herb share (and maybe more), as well as the Marblehead coordinator and volunteers. Julie pulled up about two minutes later, then the bread arrived.

It was time to sort the trucks. Some produce, from our main grower Riverland, was already organized in plastic bins for each depot. But most of the food was just in boxes or crates by weight or count and needed to be divided. A layer of boxed produce two-to-three feet thick covered the truck floor, with higher stacks at the cab end. Melrose produce stayed on the big truck, Marblehead produce was unloaded and stacked at the depot, and Salem produce moved over to the little truck. So, in many instances, cartons had to be opened and sorted, so that each depot got what it needed. Marblehead got three flats plus two pints of blueberries; Salem got another three pints from the flat that got opened up, plus they needed some flats of their own….. So you know when every now and then your depot doesn’t have something because it accidentally didn’t make it off the truck? It is kind of miraculous that this doesn’t happen a lot.

Julie had the lists of who needed what, and Steve was on the truck with his brain stuffed full of what produce was where. The rest of us scuttled around like sorcerers’ apprentices, lugging crates and boxes and bags between truck and truck and table and hillside. I thought I was reasonably strong, till I saw Steve lifting bins of melons above his head, while I could barely lift them to my waist; till I was lugging one bag of corn from truck to table, clutching it in both arms, and saw Julie happily traipsing by with a bag in each hand, not even dragging the enormous things on the ground. The next day, I found bruises all over my legs that I had no memory of receiving.

I remain astonished at how much work it all is, procuring and distributing food to 800 families in three towns. Day after day, week after week, there is a tiny staff bending their brains and their bodies to make it all happen. It really is amazing—and this work is largely invisible to those of us on the consuming end. So just imagine how much work it is to generate our food out of seed, dirt, and water.

What to Do With All That Kale? A MUST-Use Recipe!

 By Heidi Rubin, FDC Board President, Marblehead Depot

As an FDC member for more that 10 years, I have at least five go-to recipes that many of my family kale naysayers will eat. Here is one of them. I would like to thank FDC member Christina Pastan for passing this New York Times recipe on to me. It is easy, fast and a keeper!

Recipe By: New York Times adapted by Heidi Rubin
Serving Size: 4-6

2 bunches Tuscan kale (also known as black, dino or lacinato kale)- So far any kale from the FDC works
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (I use 2-3 cloves)
1/2 cup finely grated pecorino cheese, more for garnish
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for garnish
2 lemons, freshly squeezed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Optional: 2 thin slices country bread (part whole-wheat or rye is nice), or 1/4 cup homemade bread crumbs (coarse); 1/2 cup currants
1. Trim bottom 2 inches off kale stems and discard. Slice kale, excluding ribs, into 1/4-inch-wide ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Place kale in a large bowl with 1 cut up lemon (squeeze lemon quarters before putting in bowl) and cover with water for 2 hours. Squeeze kale and spin well in salad spinner. Place in serving bowl.
2. If using bread, toast it until golden on both sides. Tear it into small pieces and grind in a food processor until mixture forms coarse crumbs. The bread can be replaced with 1/4 cup of currants.
3. After chopping the garlic, transfer to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper flakes and black pepper, and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over kale and toss very well to thoroughly combine (dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat leaves). Add currants or breadcrumbs.
4. Let salad sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with additional cheese and a drizzle of oil. If you don’t have time the dressing can be made with all the oil and cheese at the same time. Enjoy!



Anne’s Amazing Antioxidants

On Friday, I realized I talked to Anne via IM while eating breakfast, lunch…and then dinner. She’s down in Louisville and despite the distance, I do my best to get my full Anne-quotient filled everyday.

I could not figure out what to make for dinner. Sometimes, we are dinner twins. I planned to make the carrot soup she’d also made (her dad’s recipe, to be featured on here in the very near future), but discovered only one carrot in my fridge. ONE. I confessed I kept opening to the fridge and staring into it, blankly, without a single thought in my head.

Anne: Do you have spinach, blueberries, couscous and almonds?

Me: All. Wait, I have only cashews, hazelnuts and walnuts for nuts.

And so, this is how it usually goes. She instructed me on a salad (I used the cashews I had) with a honey and white balsamic dressing. It was nothing short of amazing. Anne had a good point too: while I’m over here halfway through my marathon schedule, she’s busy cranking out miles on her bike (read: a LOT) and we both could stand some extra carbohydrates. Good call on the couscous!

I’ve made it 4 times since then. Yes. I used all the blueberries in the house, too. Whoopsie.

Here’s how it happened:

  • 1/2 cup cooked couscous
  • 1/2  cup blueberries
  • a lot of spinach…maybe 2 cups or so
  • handful of cashews (or whatever you’d like)
  • 2 stalks of celery (I had to use it up, and I like extra crunch)
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp good quality white balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to tast

Cook your couscous according to directions. I made extra, so I could make another round of this the next day. Anne started with cold couscous, but since mine was freshly cooked, I just went with that.

Place spinach, blueberries, cashews and celery in a bowl. Dump the couscous on top. In a small bowl, whisk together your dressing. Pour over everything and mix well. Add salt and pepper if you’d like.

So, this makes (if you’re me) one serving. I am eating everything in sight, and right now, I prefer gigantic amounts of produce. I feel so much better when I have a lot of vegetables. I’m just going with it.